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Day in the life of a Nurse: Helping better lives and coping with death on a daily basis

“I sometimes have to clean my patients or change their adult diapers. Then, I have to give patients their baths, administer or prescribe medication, feed them their meals, document patient care, as well as supervise junior nursing staff.

“Training patients, relatives and other staff about what is required for the patient’s care is also part of my daily duties. I am also constantly on my feet for the most of my shift so having comfortable shoes is important.” 

We usually see nurses when we are having a really bad day. But what are their days like?

Wired868 continues its “Day in the life…” series with a talk to a nurse who is trying to balance work, studies and her social life:

Photo: A nurse on the job.
Photo: A nurse on the job.

What is your profession and what encouraged you to pursue this career?

I am a Registered Nurse and I’ve been one for the past ten years. I chose to go into Nursing because I was unemployed at the time and it was an opportunity for me to get a job. I must confess though that I did not have a passion for nursing when I just started. However, I grew to love what I do and I give it my all.

How do you prepare for work on a daily basis?

It varies what time I get up for work. If I have to work in the morning for 7:00am, I get up for work at 5:30am.  On afternoons, I go to work for 1:00pm and evenings, I go to work for 8:00pm.

In all honesty, it has not been too difficult for me to commute to and from work. I live not too far on the main road so transportation has not been too difficult for me. Commuting takes about 30 minutes for the most. I can’t afford to purchase my own vehicle yet, so I take taxis or maxis to get to where I work.

What happens when you’re late for work?

If I am late for work, which seldom happens, it means that the person I am supposed to relieve will have to work longer and will be unable to end their shift until I arrive.  For this reason, I try my best to be on time for work all the time.

What is your typical day on the job like?

Where I work, I am one of the Senior Nurse Attendants. This means when I report to work, I have to take over the shift and I become responsible for my shift. Next, I sometimes have to clean my patients or change their adult diapers. Then, I have to give patients their baths, administer or prescribe medication, feed them their meals, document patient care, as well as supervise junior nursing staff. Training patients, relatives and other staff about what is required for the patient’s care is also part of my daily duties. I am also constantly on my feet for the most of my shift so having comfortable shoes is important.  

I get one hour for lunch and use my lunch hour to try and relax.  I also sometimes read, listen to music or try to get some school work completed.

Photo: A nurse (right) helps an elderly patient.
Photo: A nurse (right) helps an elderly patient.

How do you deal with frustration on the job?

I believe prayers solve the most difficult problem of frustration. I pray and read my bible when I feel frustrated or overwhelmed on the job. I also believe that God will never give a person more than they can bear.

I am a very spiritual person.  I may not always get the time to go to church every Sunday but I hold the values of church and religion very close to my heart.

What is challenging about your job?

For me, working shifts has been one of the greatest challenges of my job. Because of the shift system, it has interrupted my sleep pattern and I now suffer from insomnia. Safety is also another issue and concern for me because, given the current crime situation in the country, I feel sometimes uneasy when I have to work night shifts or come home at night from my afternoon shift.  I say my prayers when I leave work and home every day and ask God to take me safely to and from my destination.

What is rewarding about your job?

You know for some people money or a salary might be their reward but for me I feel like I’ve accomplished my job as a nurse when I see my patients get better and able to leave the hospital. Additionally, the smiles on the families’ faces and when they extend their gratitude brings joy to my heart. This for me is the greatest reward.

What is sad about your job?

It can be sometimes difficult to deal with the death of a patient. Seeing a life lost is very hard and then watching the families in grief make it even harder and sadder for me.

What are your hobbies?

I have many hobbies such as: reading, listening to music, cooking, meeting new people from diverse background and travelling.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Cornell Glen (centre) poses with staff at the San Fernando General Hospital after breaking his arm in a Gold Cup qualifier against Haiti on 8 January 2017.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Cornell Glen (centre) poses with staff at the San Fernando General Hospital after breaking his arm in a Gold Cup qualifier against Haiti on 8 January 2017.

Do you have children?

Not yet. I am trying to focus on educating myself and building my career. I hold my family dear to me, so I would love to have children of my own eventually. The children of today are so unruly and unmannerly that it makes me sad.  I want to be able to have my own children and teach them the right things and instill the values in them that I learnt.

Parents nowadays are forgetting that they are the adult and not the children. They are forgetting their roles as parents and try to be the friends of their children.

What are you studying?

I am currently pursuing my Master’s of Science in Nursing Degree. I am Specializing in Informatics. I chose this field because it presented a challenge and also because Informatics is a field in nursing that is not widely known. I wanted to grab the opportunity at pursuing my degree in this field since it is so limited. More significantly, I don’t have a family of my own yet so I am making use of the time I have to get myself educated until I do.

Additionally, having a master’s degree will help me to advance further in my nursing career and give me the opportunity to be more marketable and enable me to apply for positions when they become available.

How has it been for you to balance work and studies?

I am glad you asked this question. The truth is that it has not been easy trying to do both. I have taken two breaks already since I started my degree. The assignments are usually very challenging and require a lot of time, which at the moment I don’t have.

Many days I come home from work and I am too tired to look at my school work. I try to complete my assignments on my days off from work. Financially, it has also been challenging since I am paying to complete the degree online from a university in the United States. Sometimes I have to do overtime work to raise the funds to be able to pay for my tuition fees. But I believe that God will provide and will see me through until the end.

Photo: A team of nurses.
Photo: A team of nurses.

Do you plan to do any other studies after you’ve completed your Master’s?

Most likely. I am interested in doing additional studies in Public Health, Counselling and more in-depth work on Informatics.

Do you have a social life since you’re so consumed with work and school?

To be honest, I don’t have much of a social life.  In fact, I am or never have been a big fan of liming or partying.  For entertainment, I will go to see a movie or go out with my best friend for dinner. My life is kind of boring compared to some of the other nurses.

In addition to the above, given my hectic schedule, I am not able to bond with my family as I would love to.

Do you have a favourite quote or saying?

Yes. Do unto others as you would have them do to you.

About Carla Questelles

Carla Questelles
Carla Questelles is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication at COSTAATT and is currently a Wired868 intern. Questelles is passionate about her family, loves travelling, cooking and baking, listening to music, dancing, going to the movies and meeting new people.

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52 comments

  1. “A day in the life” is an important concept for a series. Much of TT is locked in their little bubbles, quick to pass judgement on others, sometimes justifiably, other times quite unfairly. If we knew the problems other people faced we could be more fair in our criticism, perhaps more understanding of their challenges, and that way perhaps arrive at more applicable standards both professional and ethical. This will go a long way to helping solve TT’s problems, because many originate in our lack of standards. I would suggest you look at days in the life of more than professionals, however. What about a day in the life of a vagrant, or an unemployed youth, or an ex-con, or even a gang member? What about a domestic helper, a CEO, a farmer?

    • Thanks for the feedback Kim. That actually sounds like a good suggestion. We may take up that challenge.

    • Lasana Liburd

      Thanks Kim. Those are some good suggestions. We have some different job types coming up already. But actually none of those that you mentioned. Game on

  2. Memi Dival it’s a nice read…

  3. Lasana,

    No need to clean up the story. You presented a rather elegant look of a nurse’s life, but we all know that doesn’t reflect the ‘hoggish’, power-struck boors the public meet daily.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’ve met nice nurses in my years working in the health sector. But I’ve seen the other side where many deliberately choose to antagonise the public and resort to the defence of ‘You eh paying my salary’, and ‘If yuh dead here, I go still sleep sound tonight’. No lie, these are actual comments I’ve witnessed thrown to people in pain.

    of course, every single nurse you interview will deny it. And not one will admit to doing it. But it is real, and extremely prevalent.

    • Lasana Liburd

      Well, really we had what the nurse wished to share about her profession. So we didn’t clean it up. But perhaps she opted not to focus too much on the unpleasant side of things.

  4. I am glad that you learned to love what you were doing as it makes your job more worthwhile. My personal experiences with nurses have been good. Treat them nice and they have your back.

  5. This young woman sounds so grounded and focused on what she wants to achieve. I wish for her the best and encourage her to persist. In light of safety commuting to and from work, it is scary. We all need to look out for each other as best we can. Thank you Mr. Liburd for this story. Very encouraging.

  6. Happy belated Birthday Carlzee Questelles.

  7. She seems very grounded and satisfied in her job. Especially since it wasn’t really her calling. It’s always nice when you approach your job as a career instead of just a paycheck. Wish her the best in her studies and hope she gets opportunities to use her qualifications to move up. Every woman working shift needs her own ride yes!

    • Agreed. I’d say someone at her workplace should give her a lift. The irony is if that person from her workplace drove off with her and gave her more than a lift… Certain ppl around here will say it is HER fault! :-/
      But let me not distract from the topic. Lol. Safety is certainly important.

  8. Very informative. travelling home alone after the late shift is frightening. However, it’s a reality check for thousand of nurses.

  9. We don’t value our nurses enough.

  10. Kudos to Carla Questelles for a fine job.

  11. I’m no RN but I can surely relate. 2 years of doing this wasn’t easy at all.

  12. Not only nurses have to balance study, work and social life.
    She isn’t any different from the thousands and thousands of people out there, some of whom have to balance marriage, cooking, cleaning and taking care of their children as well.