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Manitoba nursing graduates start careers in the midst of pandemic

Click to play video: 'Nursing graduates start career in the midst of pandemic' Nursing graduates start career in the midst of pandemic
University of Manitoba nursing graduate Hannah Payumo describes feeling anxious and excited to start her career in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic – May 14, 2021

The road to graduation hasn’t been a typical one for nursing students, but for graduate Hannah Payumo, it’s made her even more passionate about the profession.

“Being so close to the end of my program, I really just wanted to say, ‘Put me in, coach.’ I really want to be there,” Payumo said.

It was her third year in the University of Manitoba nursing program when everything changed.

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“I’ll vividly remember one of our professors telling us, we know this is really hard, we know this asking a lot of you but, you signed up from this career. We don’t sign up for this career knowing it’s going to be a super easy 9-to-5 job all the time.”

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While the COVID-19 pandemic shifted her classes online, she says she knew she still wanted a future on the front lines.

“There was nervousness and the apprehension about starting your career this way. There’s also this sense of, you just want to do your part and you want to help any way you can.”

Read more: Future nurses, doctors hope COVID-19 pandemic creates better health-care system

While the pandemic has put a strain on hospitals, the Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba says it’s been affecting enrolment in a positive way.

“What the research is telling us is actually the pandemic has increased interest in nursing. That’s a really good thing because on a global perspective we are heading into a really huge nursing shortage,” says executive director Cheryl Cusack.

The University of Manitoba says it has 213 nursing graduates this year, while St. Boniface University has 23 and Brandon University will have 50.

Read more: ‘Tipping point’ — A look inside Canada’s hospitals as COVID-19 variants surge

The U of M says it received twice as many applications for its nursing program, making it very competitive for the 120 students it’s admitting this fall.

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“We have seen across the board how nurses have stepped up and answered the call, and students have been there at the forefront as well, they’re anxious to get out there and they want to do what they can to help out,” Cusack says.

Read more: Nurses working during COVID-19 pandemic ‘beyond the point of burnout’

While Payumo has been in the hospital for her practicum, she says she can’t wait to get her degree and get back to the bedside.

“That person holding their hand or talking them through procedures, especially when they can’t have somebody there with them, I saw that behaviour and I saw that with other colleagues, and I just really want to be that person when they’re in a really vulnerable position”

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