Most people don’t start their careers in the middle of a global pandemic.
But that’s what Alana Lynn did after graduating from the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing in June 2020. By then, the pandemic was already well underway.
After studying for her licensing exam for a month and a half, passing in August, then taking a break — “I was studying nonstop for four years. We earned that time to take for ourselves, especially during a pandemic.” — she was hired at Warner Bros. Studios to do rapid COVID swabbing.
The experience turned out to be unique, rewarding and one she wouldn’t have otherwise had. “It was super cool.”
Connecting with other nurses
Lynn and the other nurses were also tested weekly, so her fears about contracting COVID were eased.
In addition to swabbing the crew and cast members, Lynn was able to connect with both new graduate nurses and more experienced nurses, some of whom had come out of retirement. During any downtime, she would chat with them about their careers.
“It’s incredible how nursing has advanced from when they first started. The patients are a lot more complex today with multiple disease processes.”
Today, Lynn is a Progressive Care Unit/Step-Down RN. She was hired in January, right in the middle of the post-holiday surge.
When she first started, hundreds of patients were in the hospital. While she hadn’t treated any COVID patients yet, her preceptor had shown and explained the care for COVID patients.
“It’s difficult to see a person almost unrecognizable, ventilated, and with multiple life-sustaining medications infusing, especially as a new grad.”
Being so early in her nursing career, Lynn is still getting her bearings.
“I feel like during this time, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel because everything is new to me,” she says. Time management, prioritizing her patients’ needs as well as her own, and continuous learning are getting her through it.
“There is something to learn every single shift, even if you’re a seasoned nurse. That’s the incredible thing about nursing.”
Thankful for mentorship
In fact, she still learns from her mentors at the school of nursing and reaches out to them periodically. She plans to pay their guidance forward one day, perhaps as a clinical instructor or volunteering as a preceptor at a hospital.
“There’s so much to do as a nurse. We’re healers, advocates, and educators. Responding to that call is very fulfilling.”