Re-affirming my research and nursing vocation

Submitted by Emma
Clinical Stroke and Senior Ophthamology Research Nurse

When the pandemic was announced back in March 2020, I really didn’t think it was going to materialise into anything big! It wasn’t until I heard all the news reports from around the world that it dawned on me that this was indeed something huge and it was going to be a historic moment in our life time.

When our Prime Minister Boris Johnson made his announcement on 23/03/2020 everything changed for our nation and our lives changed completely. We began to live in a time of social distancing, wearing PPE and not seeing our families and friends, because we didn’t want to put our loved ones at risk.

I have been a nurse for the last 20 years. I love my job. I know it was my vocation in life. During these hard times I felt fortunate to be able to still go into work and do the job I love. I am someone who needs to keep busy.

My coping mechanism was to work and to keep busy. My post changed dramatically. I had just been given the opportunity to lead the Ophthalmology research portfolio within the Sussex Eye Hospital, and then the pandemic started!

I was having to juggle Ophthalmology and Covid Research. Going into Red areas to recruit patients to clinical trials to find out more about the disease, find treatments and collect high quality data to help the world’s population.

I also felt very proud of my profession and my fellow colleagues who were working in such uncomfortable environments and putting themselves and their families at risk because at that point everything was so unknown.

I also got involved with additional vaccine shifts to assist in the mass vaccination program, which I feel proud to be part of and knowing I was helping to protect my fellow colleagues. It was great to work with colleagues I hadn’t worked with before or who I hadn’t worked with for a very, very long time!

The research department were also involved with an a new vaccine trial recruiting healthy volunteers to see if the vaccine was effective and safe to use. This study has shown how we all came together and delivered high quality research in a very safe environment.

I feel the pandemic has given research a platform and our colleagues now know that we are here, and not just behind the scenes but out in clinical areas to help our patients and to improve the health of the nation.

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