COVID-19: Mélissa, a novice nurse in intensive care, shares her experience

Photo of Melissa has since returned to the outpatient renal transplant clinic.

Melissa has since returned to the outpatient renal transplant clinic.

In order to train their nurses in record time, the Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont Intensive Care Unit created triads, whereby: an experienced nurse supervises two “novices”. A novice in the Intensive Care Unit, Melissa shares her experience with us.

The context: A global pandemic

Normally, to work in the intensive Care Unit (ICU), a nurse undergoes 40 days of training upon her arrival. To deal with the pandemic, the department managed to devise an original solution that has reduced this time to 4 days.

Melissa Ethier, nurse clinician at the Kidney Transplant Outpatient Clinic and working in the Intensive Care Unit during the pandemic, tells us how she experienced this period.

Being in solidarity with the great HMR family

When the Intensive Care Unit asked for reinforcements to make up for the lack of nursing staff, I immediately answered the call. The number of beds occupied kept increasing during the peak of the first, and hopefully the only, wave.

Shortened training to be operational quickly

I had a half-theoretical, half-practical training of three hours instead of the usual two-month training. The process was simple: a nurse leader (an experienced intensive care nurse) supervised two novices who each took care of one or two patients.

The temptation to give up

Was it stressful to be in the ICU, with COVID, in an unfamiliar environment, with new colleagues and leaders? Yes, quite a bit, I must admit. I’ve seen “novices” stay for only a few days, or even hours, before asking for a transfer.

For my part, I found hyper stimulating this condensed and accelerated learning of complex situations and new techniques that we don’t see elsewhere.

The first day as a nurse in the ICU

The first few days in the department were relatively chaotic. We were learning the ropes and stressed, but we could feel that the leaders felt the same way. They had a lot of pressure on their shoulders, as they had to work with:

  • Unknown people whose experience and skills they didn’t t know;
  • New and frequently changing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) guidelines;
  • A drastically changed Work and space organization.
There was a sense of nervousness in the air. It’s noisy and we all felt drained at the end of our shift, but in the end, we rolled up our sleeves, got to know each other and worked as a team. We adapted to the changes.Mélissa Ethier

Great leadership

The leaders were always there to answer our questions, offer help and support.

At no time did I feel left to myself. I have only good words to offer them and a huge thank you for welcoming us and, for my part, for allowing me to live this enriching experience despite the circumstances.Mélissa Ethier
Photo de Paméla Fernandez-Plante, Nurse Leader, and Mélissa Ethier, Novice Nurse, worked together in intensive care.

Paméla Fernandez-Plante, Nurse Leader, and Mélissa Ethier, Novice Nurse, worked together in intensive care.

I think it could be said that, even with a 3-hour crash course, if we are put in a supportive environment with strong leaders, teamwork, the willingness to listen to each other’s needs, and effective workforce management, then novices can manage to lend a hand and feel useful.

Without your support, the HMR and its teams would not have been ready to face this pandemic. Without your generosity, the Intensive Care Unit staff would not have had the equipment or access to the training required to adapt to the situation in a timely manner.

Your solidarity has made a difference in the past, it makes the difference today in the face of the pandemic, and it will make the difference again tomorrow.

Thank you for contributing to the Together for the HMR Fund!


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