The Difference a Year Makes

A year ago, nurse resident Paige Andrews ’19 had just completed her Colby-Sawyer education and was ready to start a career in nursing. She was eager to start working at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). She was looking forward to starting life as a nurse. She was enjoying time with her friends, boyfriend and family in her free time.

“I was either hanging out with friends or traveling to see loved ones when I had days off,” Andrews said.

Then COVID-19 arrived, and like everyone else, Andrews’ life changed quickly.

“At first the hospital had this eerie feeling,” she said. “We were not allowed to have visitors and more people worked from home. It felt empty even in the middle of the week.”

Throughout the pandemic, Andrews has worked on the Inpatient Pediatrics Unit at DHMC, and has not directly worked with Coronavirus patients. However, the challenges of the pandemic have been evident every day at the hospital.

“The most challenging part of being a nurse during this time is trying to keep a sense of normalcy, not only for us, but for our patients,” Andrews said.

As Andrews and her coworkers continue to navigate through this challenging time, she said the eerie feeling has subsided and has been replaced by a sense of everyone coming together.

“The kindness and compassion that is being displayed all around the hospital is a wonderful thing to see and bringing hope to many of us,” she said.

Andrews admits the toughest part of all of this is being unable to see her family, friends and boyfriend. She misses seeing them on her days off. Andrews said not being able to see her family and friends, and not knowing exactly when she will see them again is the hardest part for her.

Now on her days off, Andrews has picked up some old hobbies that she hasn’t had time to do in a while. She has been enjoying walking and running when the weather is nice. She has started reading again and has taken cooking up as a new pastime, often trying new recipes.

Nothing could have prepared Andrews for the first year of nursing she’s experienced, but she said the nursing program at Colby-Sawyer College taught her to be resilient.

“Things are going to happen that ultimately knock you down, but you have the ability to choose how you react to the situation. Although like everyone else, I am scared, but I am trying to be as optimistic as I can,” Andrews said.

Even after this first scary year in the nursing profession, Andrews has no doubts that she made the right career choice.

“I cannot imagine doing anything else,” she said. “It’s amazing to see that instead of celebrities, health care professionals are being highlighted on the news. I am so proud to be one of them right now.”