The 24/7 coverage of COVID-19 has highlighted the plight of many frontline workers, perhaps most notably student nurses and midwives.
Expected to work amidst the virus for long hours without payment, the workload is “extremely overwhelming”, according to Megan, a student midwife working during the ongoing pandemic.
The situation on the ground
Despite the pressure that Megan feels is being placed upon her and other student nurses and midwives, she remains concerned for the patients they are trying to help.
“We are being used to cover staff who are out for Covid reasons, either positive themselves or a close contact. Many 13-hour shifts have been done without a five-minute break. The workload is excessive and dangerous for our patients.”
She also feels that the government has nowhere to be seen in supporting the students. Megan told The Student Social that she “wouldn’t use the word support and Irish government in the same sentence.”
Megan describes the inability of the government to support student nurses as part of a wider failing in their approach to tackling the virus, and indeed to healthcare as a whole.
“To support us they should be hiring more staff to relieve the pressure of understaffing. They should have efficient student support. They shouldn’t loosen restrictions when NPHET advises them to tighten them. They should close the borders. And finally, they should pay us.”
Megan again gives off a sense of selflessness, exemplified by the fact that she mentions pay for herself and her colleagues only after first discussing the situation as it concerns society as a whole.
She paints a bleak, but perhaps brutally honest, picture of the immediate future for frontline workers in the context of COVID-19.
In addition, emigration is at the front of her mind, surely not unlike many other students and young people throughout the country. This has been a consistent theme for countless generations of young Irish people, that there is very little for them in this country.
“I’m already burnt out and I’m about to start my 9 month internship. I’m terrified for the months ahead. The government blatantly disrespect the frontline workers and for that reason I will highly consider emigrating as soon as I am qualified in October.”