Caring for others is a part of being a nurse that appeals to those who choose this career. That is exactly what Daenera Morton, 1st year Nursing student at the Faculty of Health Sciences, is doing. She is currently employed as a custodian at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, her hometown, and has been trained in multiple areas in the hospital including the COVID-19 unit and assessment clinic. While she does not yet care physically for patients, she mentions how much she enjoys conversations with them while providing some heartfelt company, given the visiting restrictions. Alongside her mother, who is a nurse, this amazing duo provide an essential service to maintain a clean and safe environment for the many patients who are receiving care at the hospital. The current universal health crisis has called upon hundreds of thousands of doctors, nurses, and sanitation experts to take the lead and work in difficult conditions. Daenera is one of them, and she represents all the University of Ottawa students and other healthcare workers on the field, whom we thank and celebrate today and every day.
We had the chance to reach out to Daenera and ask her a few questions about her experience, and her answers are a true testament of her love for the nursing profession. She also shares mindful ways that have allowed her to stay well and healthy during this pandemic situation.
Why did you choose to study Nursing at the University of Ottawa and how has your experience been so far as a 1st year student?
There were many reasons I decided to study Nursing in Ottawa. First, I wanted to find a degree where I was able to apply my interest in science while also being able to work closely with others. I had always been aware of the option of going into nursing, since my mom and grandmother were/are both nurses, but the idea hadn't really crossed my mind until Grade 11. Honestly, my mom is the one who really convinced me, I had been talking to her about how difficult it was to find a career that felt right for me that involved health science and being involved with people, and she suggested nursing. I was hesitant at first, because I didn’t want to feel like I was just following what my family expected of me, but after being able to spend a few days shadowing nurses at Grand River Hospital, I realized that nursing was the degree for me - and now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. From there I had to decide where I wanted to study. I had visited Ottawa twice, and I really fell in love with the city and the University. The program seemed to have the best fit for me in terms of layout and teaching style and overall, the university has a great atmosphere. So far, I am very pleased with my decision, I thoroughly enjoyed my classes and the city of Ottawa has now become a home for me. Living in residence and meeting other people in my program has allowed me to make some great friends which just solidified that I made the right choice in going to Ottawa.
Working on the field during a pandemic is remarkable. Has it reinforced your choice to become a nurse, and why?
Being able to work on the frontlines has reinforced my decisions to become a nurse. Although the current situation is not ideal and there have been many changes within the hospital because of the pandemic, it has been a great opportunity so far to be able to work alongside nurses. Communicating with the nurses about what needs to be cleaned and when is an important part of the job, and I have been able to meet some fantastic nurses. Seeing them work, the way they talk with patients and the rest of the care team has confirmed my career choice. Working on the frontlines has also allowed me to get more comfortable in the hospital setting and get a better feel for which area in the hospital I may want to work in the future.
Can you share any tips or your favourite hobbies that may help other nursing students and professionals to stay well during these unprecedented times?
I have found that it can be particularly hard to be motivated on my days off and I imagine other professionals and students must feel the same. On my days off, I try to get outside. I find just starting the day with some sort of goal can be helpful, even if it is just taking the dog for a walk. One hobby I have taken up is running, not just as a way to stay healthy, but also as a way to relieve the stress we are all feeling. Reading or painting has also been a good way to occupy my time, as well as trying to stay connected with friends and family. Although we cannot see them in person, Facetime has been a great way to connect and chat with friends and family. I think it’s definitely important to find hobbies to fill your down time, however, with added down time there has been pressure to “better oneself” and I think it’s important to acknowledge that there is no shame in using this time to solely relax, as we are living through very stressful and uncertain times, and everyone deserves a break.