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.