LV Nursing school students speak on why they went into the field and what it’s like to work in healthcare during a global pandemic

Written by on April 17, 2020

LV Nursing school students speak on why they went into the field and what it’s like to work in healthcare during a global pandemic

By Hayden Mitman

April 17, 2020

Photo | Hayden Mitman / WLVR

The coronavirus has changed the world. For some, it’s a chance to work from home but for others, it can mean days filled with new dangers. Nurses are on the front lines of the pandemic as hospitals continue to fill with patients with COVID-19. 

WLVR’s Hayden Mitman recently spoke to several Lehigh Valley nursing school students about why they got into this field. And what it’s been like to enter new careers in healthcare during a global pandemic.

 “I got into this because I wanted to give back… it’s just, I wanted a career that meant something.”

Kimberly Matthews is a 54-year-old, Certified Nursing Assistant at a Bucks County nursing home. She, along with 36-year-old Tiffany Harris are students at Bucks County Community College. Harris works as an Emergency Room Units Secretary at a New Jersey hospital. 

“I am nervous, but I’m not really afraid, I mean, this is what I signed up for. But, it is unnerving to know you’re walking into a situation where everyone is sick. Ok, maybe we don’t feel great about it, but it is what it is,” said Harris.

Right now medical professionals in Pennsylvania account for nearly five percent of all cases of infection. Health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said upwards of one thousand healthcare workers in the state have tested positive for the coronavirus. 

“The only thing that worries me is, look, I don’t want to get sick and I’m protecting myself, when I get home from work, I take a shower, I wash my clothes, I wash my shoes, because you don’t know if it’s on you.  But, I feel good about it, I just want to make sure that, when I go to work, I have what I need to feel safe. That’s the scariest part, from my perspective, is that you don’t want to go to work and be a sacrificial lamb.”

Fellow nursing student Jamie Froggett agrees. At 51-years-old, she works as a paramedic in Bensalem. 

“I’m of the opinion that when something like this happens, there are two kinds of people, ones that who just go, “ok” and deal with it, and, we might not have everything we need, we might be tired, but, you really just keep looking at the end point, but there are people who can’t take the pressure. They should just stay home, we don’t need them. We are trying to find the end of this and we will, it’s going to happen,” said Froggett.

Froggett says when you’re working around the clock to save lives, basic human necessities healthcare workers need can start to slip through the cracks.

“We aren’t heroes, we are just people and we need to be treated like normal people. And, they have to take care of us. We need to work together, but we need a place to lay down. Hospitals don’t have anywhere to lay down if you’re not a patient there. You can’t live there. But, if you’re there 24 hours a day, where do you eat” where do you sleep? Where do you shower?”

There’s a stark difference between what’s in textbooks and the reality of working to save lives amid a pandemic in an ER, Harris adds.

“In the last four weeks, a lot has changed. Just in, what used to be unacceptable is now ok, and that’s a little unnerving. Like, say N95 masks, they used to be used once and throw them away, but now, you keep them, air them out and things like that are like ‘oh, ok, that’s different,” said Harris.

“I think we will get it under control. I see it every day, on the news you see the nurses crying over people who died, and although I’m not in the trenches yet, I want to be with them because someone has to be there for them. The more I get into nursing the more and more I want to do it. And, as hard as it was, or is, I still find it’s one of the best jobs in the world,” said Matthews.

Kimberly Matthews, Tiffany Harris and Jamie Froggett all expect to graduate in June. Then they’ll take their exams in the hopes of becoming licensed practical nurses.

Watch Hayden’s full PBS39 News Tonight Report.


Current track