Future nurses undaunted by pandemic challenges


As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses, doctors and other medical professionals continue to work hard to keep the public safe while battling burnout and the stress of a once-in-a-century public health crisis.

But that hasn’t deterred Nicolas John Manuel, a nursing major at the University of Detroit Mercy, who still plans to pursue his degree despite daunting conditions that await him after graduation. 

“I have seen from family members and friends the amount of stress that the pandemic has put on them,” he said in an interview. “I keep telling myself that the struggle is worth it at the end despite the hardships.” 

It would be understandable that students who were studying to be a nurse, doctor or paramedic would have second guesses continuing a career in medicine amid COVID conditions. The pandemic has overwhelmed healthcare systems across the country and prompted nurses to quit in droves.

According to a recent Bloomberg article, two-thirds of nurses surveyed by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses said their experiences during the pandemic have prompted them to consider leaving the field. Another study cited in the article, by the American Nurses Foundation, found 21 percent of nurses polled plan to quit within the next six months.

Despite the exodus, there’s a big need for healthcare workers across the country and especially in Michigan. President Joe Biden last month authorized the deployment of military medical personnel to six states, including Michigan, to help with the recent surge in cases due to the omicron variant.

The pandemic has also brought stigma to medicine and medical practitioners, with some falsely claiming either that COVID-19 is not real or not as dangerous as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims.  This disinformation has led to many people getting sick with the virus and having to be hospitalized, putting many of the frontline workers themselves at risk of getting sick or becoming inundated with the workload. 

“I think the hospital staff is very hardworking and committed to their job,” Manuel said. “They're very overwhelmed and stressed out by the amount of workload.” 

The massive influx of COVID patients has prompted several states to graduate medical students early so that hospitals will have more professional medical practitioners working to alleviate the pressure. Early in the pandemic, some schools in New York allowed seniors to enter the workforce early to help ease the surge in cases.

 When questioned if our own university would do this same practice, Manuel answered, “No, I think Detroit Mercy is focused on preparing each of their students to become high quality nurses in whatever field they go into.”