In addition to spending long hours taking care of COVID-19 patients, Johanna Rhein, M.S.N. ’16 is also a student in Seton Hall’s Adult Gerontology Acute-Care Nurse Practitioner Program.
When the pandemic first hit our area, Johanna Rhein, M.S.N. '16, was on a much-needed vacation from her position as a Registered Nurse at Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital in New York City. Coming back to the United States reality hit her hard: her Cardiac Intensive Care Unit had been transitioned to a COVID-19 ICU.
"As a Critical Care Registered Nurse, you always have to be prepared for the unknown on a regular day," she said. "But for the first week, I had only one word to describe what this pandemic felt like: nightmare. When I took my first COVID-19 patient, I will never forget the sheer look of panic on my patient's face as they gasped for air, waiting to be intubated."
Serving as a bedside nurse, Johanna is one of the people who primarily spends their time with patients. While this time is limited due to risk of exposure, she realizes how important it is as oftentimes the patients' families cannot visit. "While many of these patients are intubated, sedated, and or paralyzed, I cannot help but think how terrified they may be — let alone the fear their loved ones are facing at home," she said. "It scares me because I know it could be my own mom, dad, grandparent, brother, or sister. This hits me very hard personally."
In addition to spending long hours taking care of COVID-19 patients, Johanna is also a student in Seton Hall's Adult Gerontology Acute-Care Nurse Practitioner Program. "I definitely would say Seton Hall's emphasis on practice-based education helped prepare me for this role on the front lines of response to the pandemic." She was even able to relate her experiences back to her current coursework. "I recently wrote a paper reviewing the Critical Care Guidelines for COVID-19 patients and practices I have seen in my workplace," she said. "This knowledge and passion to provide the best evidence-based care gives me confidence to speak up for my patients."
Per Joannna, "COVID-19 has been draining physically, emotionally, and mentally. However, I have never felt more compelled to be at work because I want to help."
Her professors and classmates have been supportive throughout this time, according to Johanna. "The support I have received through messages, texts or even just Blackboard discussions keeps me going," she said. "Whether it is to vent or help with assignments, I know I am supported by a wide range of esteemed professional nurses, and it feels calming in a time of complete chaos and uncertainty."
Johanna sees her time on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 as an immense learning experience. "I never have felt more connected with my team of residents, nurses, nursing assistants, PAs and NPs, attending doctors, housekeeping, respiratory therapy, dietary and so many more," said Johanna, evoking the College of Nursing's hallmark emphasis on the importance of interprofessional practice and team approach to the practice of medicine. Johanna feels that the importance of the registered nurse's role is being recognized now, more than ever. "During rounds, I have doctors asking me, 'What do you think?' I feel so honored to be a registered nurse. It truly has leveled the playing field so to speak for all who work in the healthcare industry."
"COVID-19 has been draining physically, emotionally, and mentally," said Johanna. "However, I have never felt more compelled to be at work because I want to help."
Categories: Health and Medicine