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Work-Life Balance for a Staff Nurse and Full Time Student During a Covid-19 Pandemic

06 Jul 2021

Work-life balance may sound like a cliché word in everyone’s daily life. However, for us as healthcare professionals, work-life balance may be challenging as working hours can differ especially for those like myself who are working in shifts. Nursing has always been my passion ever since I took care of my late grandmother when I was in my childhood days. As I graduated from my nursing college and started on career as a staff nurse, it has always been my principle to ensure that my patients are the priority by providing quality care and spending time whenever I can with patients who require a shoulder to cry on. As years passed by, I decided to pursue my education by enrolling in Bachelor of Nursing Science (Hons) Post Registration programme at IMU in 2019.

During these two years programme, I have gained endless experience in every semester. With that being said, it is important to have work-life balance so that I would not feel pressured or stressed be it from back-to-back assignments or at work to perform my level best. At the same time, I also had to ensure that I performed my duties as a class representative for Cohort NS1/19 so that all information given from all lecturers is cascaded to my classmates and they are updated at all times.

 Hui Lynn on the first row, fifth from the right.

Furthermore, I would prioritise assignments given based on stipulated timelines given and spend at least two hours a day on reading information especially for research related topics to gain more insight and understanding. I am blessed to have such an understanding Ward Sister at work who was able to grant me leave and provide me ample time in giving my rostering schedule so that I would be able to cope with my work and studies at the same during these 2 years in my degree. One of the ways to have work-life balance is that I spend quality time with my family be it via video call conversations with my brother and his family who is currently staying overseas and also exercise at least for an hour twice a week to maintain an active lifestyle.

When the Covid-19 Pandemic Outbreak Hit………………………
One of the eventful experiences that I had been through during my degree studies is when the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak hit as I was beginning my Research and Statistics Module (Semester 4). Classes had to be conducted online instead of face-to-face whereby it had caused my classmates and I to have different understanding on certain terminologies and formulas. Although my classmates and I faced difficulties and challenges throughout these two years degree, I would always give them support, motivation and positive encouragement so that we are able to graduate together as a cohort. This was one of my ultimate goal that I upheld as a class representative for my cohort. In addition, I have learned fruitful information in terms of leadership empowerment, communication skills, knowledge in research and statistics by pursuing this degree at IMU which is also beneficial as a career enhancement in future job application. Aside from my studies, we were facing uncertainties at work on ways to protect ourselves from spreading the Covid-19 virus. As for my workplace, in the maternity unit, all pregnant mothers who comes in spontaneously to deliver will be required to undergo Covid-19 PCR test. While waiting for their results, we as midwives are required to don the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as N95 mask, face shield, disposable gown, gloves to prevent risk of infection especially when we are dealing with blood and fluids. Before we even begin our shifts, we are encouraged to have proper meals and empty our bladder before donning PPE to last through the shift. During this pandemic outbreak, we as nurses are bound to face the risk of exposure from the Covid-19 virus as we are part of the frontliners. Donning PPE was one of the main precautionary highlights that were reiterated during this pandemic outbreak alongside the endless practice of effective handwashing to protect ourselves. Frontliners have been working round the clock in PPE all drenched in sweat, hunger, dehydration during long shift hours that led to burnout in order to combat the virus and ensure patients are given utmost care on a daily basis. With new cases arising and updates, we as nurses become so exhausted especially those who dealing with Covid-19 positive patients.

As a class representative, I played my role in giving support to my classmates especially when they are feeling upset, stressed, demotivated and anxious with all sorts of obstacles ahead especially when some of them are separated from their family and loved ones for almost over a year due to work commitments as they did not want to spread the Covid-19 virus to them.

To sum it all up, nursing is definitely one of the in-demand and highly sort after career. However, not everyone can be a nurse as it is not an easy task that one can take up as a career let alone deal with all the sacrifices that money cannot buy or replace with.

Nowadays, nurses are taught to be more skilful, competent, knowledgeable and also compassionate in performing our nursing care to patients as these will definitely show a positive outcome to patients, hence able to gain trust and build rapport with each other. Furthermore, as nurses, we should support each other as work as a team during this crucial and pandemic outbreak so that not one of us is left behind.

Last but not least, my take home message for everyone is that, stay at home and only go out if it is really necessary. Avoid crowded, closed area with inadequate ventilated spaces where people spend long periods of time and close contact so that we can break this Covid-19 chain together. Stay safe by staying at home!

Written by: Edited by: 
Toh Hui Lynn (NS1/19),  a nursing degree student in Cohort NS119 who have just completed the Bachelor of Nursing Science (Hons) Degree in IMU in March 2021. At the same time, she is currently working as a Staff Midwife in Park City Medical Centre. Tan Woei-Ling & Dr Lim Swee Geok

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