March 29, 2022

'The pandemic brought huge uncertainty and new challenge...each of my students has sacrificed as well'

Megan Keszler shares her perspective from the trenches of the pandemic, and who she believes deserves some respect
Megan Keszler at work
Nursing Instructor and ICU nurse Megan Kezler

I’m Megan, a registered nurse and sessional instructor with the Faculty of Nursing, teaching clinical practice [four] days a week on a busy medicine unit along with a full day of lab. During the pandemic, I have continued to work bedside during my off days, as I know the students really value my current practice and perspective.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was an ICU nurse, and then transferred to internal medicine and cardiology. During the fourth wave, I redeployed to PLC ICU as a primary ICU nurse to assist short staffing in the crisis, which for a while meant working [six to seven] days a week. Additionally, I maintain a social media presence for my students as well, that developed out of students’ need for information (‘what’s it like?’), connection in a socially distant era, and informal education opportunities in an engaging manner. 

Despite my workaholic ways, I believe the honour of “COVID Crusher” goes to my students.

I’ve been teaching clinical since before the pandemic, and while the pandemic brought huge uncertainty and new challenges to the role of the instructor, I recognize that each of my students has sacrificed as well. At the start of the pandemic, students were removed from clinical practice, and often had to make up time online.

Later, students came to me having missed time in previous terms due to outbreak and had to work hard to make up for the experience lost, which was an enormously stressful experience for them.

Now, students struggle with maintaining social lives, online theory, worries about their families and the pressures of not only school but also working in the health-care system in a pandemic. Some of these students have already graduated and have joined the workforce during these uncertain times, others are just graduating now. Still more are working their way through school. 

When they come to me, I set the ground rules: Prepare to work hard on the unit and the unit will repay you in learning experiences. As such, they join a very busy unit with nurses and other health professionals struggling under the weight of the pandemic and pitch in, without compensation by nature of their status as students.

Through their dedication to their patients and to helping the team, they earn the respect of the unit, and the unit in turn looks forward to working with the students.

Staff also has more time and willingness to teach the students as students offload some of their workload. This builds stronger students who will be better prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation. Additionally, my students develop a greater sense of confidence as their experience grows. I’m immensely proud of all of them, and how they’ve worked through the last two years dedicating themselves to their education and to the health of the public.”