Bonds between nurses strengthened during COVID
This International Nurses Day, two nurse-midwives from the Women’s Emergency Care share their experience of life in emergency and the bonds that form when working under pressure.
There haven’t been a whole lot of positives to the COVID-19 pandemic for Ella Murdoch and Tim Bedford, nurse-midwives in the Women’s Emergency Care.
But one thing the stress of the last two years has done is solidified the bond of their team.
“We’re such a small, tight-knit family and, if anything, COVID has driven us all closer,” says Ella, who started her career in 2019 and joined the Women’s during the pandemic. Tim started his graduate year at the Women’s in May 2020 and worked for a year in maternity before moving to the emergency centre.
Both say what drew them to emergency was the excitement of a fast-paced environment and the variety of patients and cases that come through the door. An added bonus has been the team culture.
“We were lucky because we were able to come to work and be around such great people who knew what we were all feeling.
“We’ve worked so hard over the last two years, but you feel so valued and appreciated by everyone – the hospital, managers and patients.”
Teamwork makes the dream work
The nature of working in emergency means that teamwork is critical. A relatively quiet day can change in an instant with women walking through the door writhing in pain, ambulances pulling up to the emergency bay and mothers coming in during late stages of labour, all at the same time. To be able to juggle that – and to process the aftermath of a traumatic case – requires everyone to work well together.
“If someone comes in with high blood pressure, you’re thinking, ‘What are the potential things that could happen because of that?’ Things can escalate really quickly,” Tim says.
“Someone can come in saying they have a mild headache, then deteriorate quickly and collapse.
“You need to be able to prioritise patient care and to collaborate with your teammates to get the right outcome for the patient. The senior nurse-midwives and doctors have a wealth of experience and make you comfortable to ask questions and feel supported.”
Someone to lean on
The team supports each other through the ups and downs of life in the emergency centre both formally and informally. It might be a quiet conversation in the tearoom or a drink after work that gets them through a hard day. The formal team debriefs organised by the nurse unit manager and medical director of emergency provide additional support after any traumatic incidents.
“Some days you can manage an emergency completely fine and not have it affect you at all, but then other days you can help a patient through something that might not be as confronting but you take it more on board,” Tim says.
“Support from the team helps you through that.”
Thursday 12 May is International Nurses Day and the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.