TAU Nursing Student Adapts Skills to Corona Era
"I had to flex dormant muscles," says Hanna Borer, a graduate student of nursing at Tel Aviv University's Steyer School of Health Professions, of working on the frontlines of the global pandemic.
Borer is a midwife at Netanya's Laniado Hospital. Because her job necessitates much physical contact, COVID-19 has drastically changed her professional duties.
Social distancing rules can be debilitating for women in labor, Borer explains. Sometimes they are allowed only one escort, as opposed to the standard two or none at all; this makes them anxious from the outset. "Then, all of a sudden they see an 'astronaut' [staff in protective suits]. It’s very difficult for them. We stop them at the entrance and triage them according to risk level."
Crying outbursts and other intense reactions are common, she says.
Hanna feels their distress acutely. "I understand people – their souls. That's why I love my job."
Moreover, physical acts which are part of a midwife's job, like massages, are now restricted. To overcome these restrictions, Borer finds creative ways to communicate. For example, to relax a woman, she can hold her hand, even if it's with a glove, make her laugh, or make funny eye movements. “Working under such harsh physical restrictions cultivated abilities that I had within me but were dormant.”
In this new reality, Borer has experienced absurd situations, such as when a woman's husband watched his child's birth by video call. "I had to think hard of where to put the phone!" Hanna laughs.
Each time she enters a room to care for a woman suspected of having Coronavirus, she must put on a protective suit and then throw it away before entering the next room. She repeats this often and each round takes time. "It's exhausting."
Despite these difficulties, "I always try to find positive points in these weird situations."
Borer has applied a lot of what she has learned at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine to her hospital work, especially during this period, when caregiving skills such as communication and empathy help mitigate social distancing.
Borer said she also developed leadership traits during the pandemic. The hospital updated regulations daily, and she had to find the optimal solutions in real time. “Everything was soft and malleable, like play dough.”
Naturally, the past two months have been busy for Borer, who in addition to her work and studies gives private labor preparation courses. She is a mother of nine and grandmother of two.
"I'm used to balancing work and family and studies. I've always been an honors student and love academia, but since the outbreak of Corona, I haven't had a minute for my schoolwork," she says.
Overall, the experience of working during the pandemic has been very rewarding to her. She says she is moved by the public appreciation shown to medical staff – including when the Air Force flew over hospitals to salute the staff on Independence Day.
“There is a feeling of unity, of people taking care of each other," she says. “I feel that I am contributing to an important national and international mission.”