#StandInMyShoes - Nursing Week 2021

May 4, 2021

Still Standing. Still Strong. Still Proud. This statement perfectly captures the bravery, commitment and dedication Ontario’s nurses have shown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Many issues have arisen, but our nurses continue to deliver safe, high-quality care to their patients, residents and clients. Many have been working long shifts, often without a break, but they are still standing. Many have feared contracting the virus and bringing it home to their loved ones, but they are withstanding this stress – they are still strong. But most importantly, they are still proud to care for Ontarians.

To tie in with this year’s Nursing Week theme, we developed the hashtag: #StandInMyShoes. We hope that members take to social media to share their stories about what it really means to be a nurse. We want the world to know why they have so much pride in their profession and why, despite everything the pandemic has thrown their way, they love what they do.

Nursing can be exhausting and challenging, but it is also an incredibly gratifying and valued profession. Now more than ever, it is important to acknowledge that no matter what the landscape looks like, nurses are dedicated to helping those in need.

We spoke with Eram Chhogala, a Trauma and Emergency Services nurse, to learn more about what life has been like on the frontlines in the COVID-19 era.

A Pandemic Within a Pandemic

eram1“What is different about COVID-19 is the rapid spread of this virus, and the unfortunate massive number of deaths that have occurred,” explained Eram. “The constant bagging and tagging of bodies has been unreal.”

Eram explained that as a nurse, she is familiar with being exposed to different forms of disease. However, COVID-19 has impacted nurses on a different level. Encountering high volumes of patients with mental health issues and low socioeconomic status – it’s like a pandemic within a pandemic, she said.

Nurses are well acquainted with experiencing stress on the job, but this pandemic has brought on a new stressor – the constant fear of bringing home the virus to loved ones. Eram highlighted that this fear is top of mind and that she has witnessed many of her colleagues experience burnout. The extra stress that this pandemic has put on nurses’ backs has become unbearable for some. So unbearable that some have even considered leaving the profession, according to Eram.

“The turnover rates are getting higher and being short-staffed sometimes makes shifts difficult to work,” revealed Eram. “But we try really hard to work together as a team to help our patients and their families.”

It’s Going to Be a Long Haul

Our nurses have been battling COVID-19 for over a year now, and the light at the end of the tunnel is still quite dim. However, Eram is going to keep fighting the fight. She thanks her family for keeping her motivated – they have always taught her to support causes she believes in.

“I know with my dedication and perseverance, we will win,” she said. “This too shall pass.”

Despite nurses and health-care workers putting in gruelling hours to combat COVID-19, some people are not convinced that it is a serious virus. Eram has a few words for those people.

“Come work in my shoes and see what I see on a daily basis,” she said. “We do not enjoy dressing up in PPE, having stress marks on our faces, or being drenched in sweat for hours. We miss our breaks sometimes because we work so hard. This is not a hoax; this is the horrific reality of COVID-19.”

The Greatest Feeling of Accomplishment

Eram2As someone who has a genuine love and passion for human beings and the world, nursing is the perfect profession for Eram. For her, nothing beats the satisfaction that comes along with helping another human being.

“Be it the smallest or the largest impact in someone's life, I feel the greatest feeling of accomplishment, because I know it will make a difference in their life,” she explained.

However, she wishes that people would realize that nurses were, are, and always will be an integral part of the health-care system. Eram wants people to know that nurses are trying very hard to provide care and with high volumes of patients, it has been difficult to make space for everyone.

“Please remember we are doing the very best we can,” she said.

This Too Shall Pass

Once the COVID-19 pandemic has calmed down, Eram just wants to take a deep breath and feel some form of relief. She acknowledged that she needs to practice more self-care, but credits meditation and her Muslim faith for keeping her grounded through this emotionally stressful time. She also would like to take part in a disaster preparedness team for future pandemics, to understand how a similar situation can be better handled. As someone who genuinely loves others, seeing her patients struggle to breathe is an extremely saddening and painful experience for Eram.

“It’s hard to see people suffer because this is not something I would want someone to experience,” she explained.

This was just a little jaunt in the shoes of a selfless, courageous and empathetic nurse on the front lines. Thank you for letting us stand in your shoes, Eram.

What’s it like to stand in your shoes? We’d love to hear!

There are two ways you can share your story with us:

  • Use #StandInMyShoes on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to share your story with us and all your social media followers.
  • Send your story to our Front Lines editor, Ruth Featherstone, at frontlines@ona.org.

Everyone who uses #StandInMyShoes to share their story will be entered to win a pair of Apple AirPods!