Didn't Realize I Would Be Primarily Working with Covid Patients

by qz1982 qz1982 (New) New Student

I'm hoping someone might have some insight or thoughts on my situation, because I feel like I'm in way over my head. So I attended an online job fair for a nearby hospital that was recruiting nurse techs and was really excited when the day after my interview, I was offered a job! They gave me the choice of working in orthopedics, telemetry, or progressive care unit. It was a whirlwind and I had to make a decision on the spot. Well I guess I'm an idiot, but having never worked at a hospital before and not really understanding the ins and outs of how things are going with Covid, I chose progressive care. It sounded like I would get exposed to a variety of things and learn a lot. Also, with the pandemic, our clinical experience have been severely limited so it would be amazing to get more time to practice things, even things like ADLs that I haven't done since last year.

 So far in school, we haven't been allowed to work with Covid positive patients, and I guess my thinking was that since this was a job for nursing students we probably wouldn't be expected to work with covid patients either (again, I know I really didn't think this through). My partner is immunocompromised, but I told him "don't worry I'm not on the Covid unit!" We live in a tiny one bedroom apartment, so I can't keep any sort of distance between us when I'm home. I also have some weird health things, but I don't think any of those would put me in the high risk category. 

Well, today during orientation (my second day as a new-hire, not working on the unit yet) it was casually brought up during the general PPE training that some of us might be fitted for n95s if we are working with Covid positive on my unit. My stomach is now in knots. I'm worried that I will put my partner at risk. He is constantly in fear of getting the virus because of his asthma and high BP. Also, if I get sick and miss too much class, I will have to wait until next school year to finish (our school's policy is that if you are sick and miss too much class, you are only let into the cohort behind you if there is room - the next cohort is a year behind me). I have six months of school left, and I don't want to risk ruining that - I'm so close and I've been at this for four years! But I also feel like a complete piece of garbage if I tell the recruiter that I didn't realize I'd be working with this patient population and I don't feel like I can take that risk right now. I know being a nurse means taking risks and making sacrifices, but I am already dreading my first day on the unit. I don't know how I can deal with constantly worrying that I'm going to get sick or make my partner sick while trying to focus on school. I know I'm thinking of the worst case scenario right now, but I also know that they have a LOT of employees that have gotten Covid at work, so it's not out of the realm of possibility. 

Would it be completely unreasonable to ask the recruiter if I can work on one of the other units that have less interaction with Covid positive patients? 

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

Yes, it would indeed be completely unreasonable. Let me tell you why.

Almost every unit is going to have Covid patients. If you are on a designated Covid unit, at least you will know the patients are positive and have the right PPE. If you are on other units, people may be positive and you not even know it.

If this is that big of a deal, it may be this isn't the right job for you. Your entire career will involve you running toward the danger while others run away. You are every bit as likely to get Covid out in the community, probably even moreso, than at the hospital.

You are twisting yourself up. No, you aren't going to escape communicable diseases if you go into healthcare. 

WookieeRN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in PACU. Has 4 years experience.

This is the new reality of healthcare. It would be ridiculous to go back to the recruiter and ask to go to an area without COVID patients. I am severely immunocompromised and have no choice in the matter at my hospital. They only relocate pregnant women and those over 65 at my hospital in the beginning and now no one gets a pass anymore. COVID patients are on almost every single one of our units now, they’re unavoidable. 

I’m sorry you are concerned for yourself and your husband. Many of us are in the same boat but still care for these patients. Your option is to accept your assignment or stay home. If this is a deal breaker for you, I think that you may want to look elsewhere for employment. 

Thanks for your input. I think I conveyed my question wrong and didn’t fully explain my thinking. My partner is of course a huge concern, but I think I should have emphasized my more pressing concern: Is it worth it to take the risk of getting sick and not finishing school? We automatically fail the quarter if we miss more than one clinical or lab. Part of me thinks just getting through school and passing the NCLEX should be my top priority, but part of me thinks it might be stupid to waste the opportunity to get my foot in the door of the hospital. I understand that being a nurse involves caring for infectious patients - I’ve worked with patients with MRSA, C.diff, even tuberculosis. I’m pretty sure I caught norovirus at my first clinical site. The thing that scares me about Covid is that you see all these cases of “long haulers” and long term problems and I’m worried that if I happen to be unlucky enough to get it and also happen to be one of the people who get extremely sick, well there goes nursing school and I’ll have to wait until a full academic year until this quarter’s classes are offered again. So it’s more should I just worry about school or take on this job with the chance it could set me back a year? 
My partner is important to me to, of course, and maybe it’s selfish that my top concern is my education, but at the same time he understands that I’m going into healthcare and that puts him at a greater risk than being with someone who works in an office.