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“Don't give up hope.” 2 women share what it's really like for nurses and midwives in 2022.

Nurse & Midwife Support
Thanks to our brand partner, Nurse & Midwife Support

We're over two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, and nurses and midwives are exhausted. 

"There's a very high proportion of people in the healthcare industry that are burnt out and overwhelmed, because they haven't had a break from all the various stresses that COVID brought," midwife, Celeste explains.

Working during the prolonged pandemic has resulted in many nurses and midwives questioning if they want to continue on their career path. Another major contributor to burnout is the staff shortages across the country, which has had far-reaching consequences. 

"Senior staff aren't around to mentor the junior staff and they can't get new professionals in from overseas like they normally would," she tells Mamamia

Celeste worked in a public sector birthing suite for four years, and when COVID-19 hit, the hospital environment changed.

"We had to be in the N95 masks, which are really difficult to wear anyway, but particularly when you're trying to provide emotional support, and you're delivering a baby, you kind of get hot and sweaty. All the PPE adds a different layer onto the stress, but it's a highly emotional environment.”

"It's very easy to become exhausted — mentally, physically, and emotionally. Although it's really rewarding, it also has the potential for you to become fatigued and overwhelmed."

Nowadays, Celeste lends her support to other nurses and midwives — who often don’t have time to prioritise their own health — through her work with Nurse & Midwife Support's 24/7 helpline. 

"I think when you've been in the profession long enough, you've experienced most things that people will call about," Celeste says.

"It's really rewarding in that way. Feeling like you're able to help your peers. So that's the beauty of it."

Nurse & Midwife Support offers specialised help to nurses, midwives and nursing and midwifery students dealing with workplace demands and stressors that impact their wellbeing. The service is also available to employers, educators and concerned family and friends of nurses and midwifes.

"A lot of people will call in, and they just really want someone to listen to them. So we hear them out. It's about providing empathy and compassion and an understanding ear."

"But we can also work with particular issues. We can provide advice about other services people might engage in that are helpful referral pathways. We can do health plans, self-care plans, lifestyle interventions, mindfulness, diet, exercise or sleep," Celeste adds.

Celeste. Image: Supplied. 

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It's something nurse, Amy, has seen great value in.

"It's 24/7, because we're up at 2am, so that's awesome."

"They were the first people that I knew of that were really trying to reach nurses [and midwives] on their own terms, and talking their own language."

"They use digital platforms like Facebook, like Instagram. They've got a podcast. They've got online resources. They've got a free support line. They care so much about listening to nurses [and midwives]," she tells Mamamia

Amy has worked as a nurse in the healthcare industry for 11 years. Recently, she stepped away from her full-time nursing job to operate a hospital phone line during the week, while still fitting in a shift at the ICU every weekend.

"There's a woman on the end of the phone line."

"She's calling me about her child who is unwell, and I tell her I'm going to have to call an ambulance and that I need to put her through to triple zero. I ask her, 'Where are you?' and she doesn't know exactly where she is because she's at a women's shelter."

One of the calls she received early in her first week was from a woman fleeing domestic violence.

"That is the most catastrophic thing that could happen in a person's life, and if you think about it, normal people won't have many catastrophic things happen, but healthcare workers deal with that every single day — day in and day out, minute by minute."

Amy's recent role change came about as her previous job was becoming too emotionally and physically taxing. 

"On the weekends, I might have done a night shift, afternoon shift, or a 12-hour shift," she tells Mamamia.

"It's very common to work five, six, or seven days in a row, with long, 12-hour shifts, night shifts and rotating bosses." 

"When you're working in hospitals, there's just no such thing as holidays," Amy adds.

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"People don't stop having heart attacks, people don't stop having accidents. Cancer doesn't stop just because it's Easter. There's just no such thing as holidays when you're working in a hospital."

Amy. Image: Supplied. 

Both Amy and Celeste are just a small glimpse into the day-to-day lives of nurse and midwives in 2022. But their words echo that of an industry that care for our most vulnerable. One that we simply don't value enough.

"Nurses are incredible," Amy says.

"The selflessness I see in my colleagues, managers, educators, and teammates — I admire it so much. The courage, they have to continue on, and continue to uphold the best care ... it's truly phenomenal under the unforeseen circumstances of the last couple of years."

Celeste feels the same, her parting advice to those in the industry: "Don't give up hope."

"Know that there are options and choices if you do decide to keep working in the profession, or if you think that you need a career change.”

"There are things you can do to support yourself, like lifestyle interventions." 

"Often people need outside support, whether that be from us at Nurse & Midwife Support or from a psychologist. There are various organisations that can help."

Call the Nurses and Midwives Support 24/7 hotline on 1800 667 877 or   contact the team to receive confidential advice. 

Visit the website for a range of resources that have been developed by their community of experienced nurses and midwives. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

Nurse & Midwife Support
Nurse & Midwife Support provides confidential advice, referral and support to promote better health and wellbeing for nurses, midwives and students across Australia. Run by nurses and midwives, the team have extensive knowledge and skills to help you access the right support for your needs. Whether you require single session counselling or a call back, Nurse & Midwife Support is ready to offer free, confidential, person-centred support and resources to you. Call Nurse & Midwife Support’s 24/7 hotline on 1800 667 877 or visit their website at www.nmsupport.org.au. Your health matters.