New Graduate Labor & Delivery RN
I graduated school and became a Labor and Delivery nurse during a global pandemic.
I finished my final semester of nursing school in June 2020. My last term was conducted on Zoom. Clinicals were cancelled, rescheduled and moved around daily. My instructors scrambled to help us finish our remaining clinical hours for graduation, but we did it.
I passed my NCLEX in August and applied to hospitals all over Southern California. Job searching as a new graduate nurse in this pandemic was not easy. Many new grad programs had been delayed or outright cancelled because of lack of resources and staffing. My heart was set on labor and delivery, but I applied to a wide range of nursing positions like a Covid-19 testing site just to get some experience. I had been networking with an OB hospital director, Jennifer, for almost a year at this point. We had met at an AWHONN meeting before the pandemic but had no openings in her unit at the time. In late September a spot opened up. I started a month later. If it wasn’t for my persistent communication with Jennifer, I don’t know if I would be working right now.
Being a new graduate in Labor & Delivery is challenging and wonderful all at the same time. It is so specialized that even what you learn in school is just skimming the surface. At times I can feel like I am unsure about what I am doing, but L&D is a team and I know I am never alone. I become gradually more independent from my preceptor with each shift. I appreciate her trusting my ability, but still being present in case I need help. I have a tremendous amount of support around me to help me learn, understand and grow.
My whole career (all three months of it) has been different than I ever imagined it to be. I remember seeing my first birth in nursing school. The laboring mom had her partner, her mom, and three aunts in the room for support. It was a celebration! Covid-19 only allows us to have one support person in the room. My patients deliver with masks on their faces. The first time a newborn looks at their parents, they are wearing masks. FaceTime is more present in the delivery and postpartum room than ever before. I’ve watched patients introduce their baby to their grandparents through the window. The waiting room is empty while I care for a crash cesarean. Extended family waits for updates on mom and baby outside, at the entrance of the hospital.
I understand why these practices are in place. Limiting how many people come in and out of the hospital is crucial to slowing the spread of Covid-19. I am seeing more and more Covid positive pregnant people. To me, the pandemic is very real.
The reality is that many of my patients have inadequate prenatal care due to the fear of going to the doctor’s office and contracting the virus. We perform rapid Covid tests for every admission to our unit. When a person tests positive, they become even more isolated as a result.
We do everything we can to make our patients feel safe and comfortable to give birth in our facility despite that they cannot see my face. I wear an N95 for my 12-hour shift. They may not be able to see the smile under my mask, but I know they can see my crinkled eyes, welled up with tears.
I make it my goal every shift to bond with my patients. I try to get to know them on a more personal level rather than simply a nurse-patient relationship. I want them to feel comfortable around me. Most of the time I am able to establish several inside jokes and we have little quirks to our friendship. While it is only a 12-hour shift, I know that time can leave a lasting impression on the persons birth experience. I want to be that extra support in the room. To help make up for the lack of family and friends they always envisioned would be at their birth. Just like my patients, I never imagined that it could be this way, but I still want to ensure it is a wonderful memory for years to come.
Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!
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