uc irvine school of nursing alumni samantha liu class of 2020Our weekly Alumni Spotlight series features updates on the outstanding graduates of the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing. Samantha Liu, class of 2020, shares her experiences as a nurse working in a pandemic.

Where do you work?

Community Regional Medical Center

What is your title?

NICU Registered Nurse

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your life?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the transition as a new grad into the nursing field a unique one. It has been dynamic, challenging, and eye opening. I think with COVID, it has changed daily life as we knew it. It is hard to feel “normal” when nothing around us was functioning as it once did before. We notice flaws and we shift our focus to what is really important.

I think that while COVID presents its challenges and has distanced people, it has also brought people closer together. Reaching out to others and connecting with loved ones requires a personal effort and that is special. It presents the opportunities for us to reflect and think about the past and the future. This can be worrisome and hopeful in different ways.

What initially drew you to the nursing profession?

I was initially drawn to the nursing profession when my younger brother was admitted into the neonatal intensive care unit. This was the first time I had experience being around nurses and their role in the healthcare setting. Even though I was just a young child at the time, I never forgot how they made me feel in this new environment of quiet whispers, bilirubin lights and beeping IVs. They made my family and myself feel safe and well taken care of. And that’s when I knew that was what I wanted to do.

I admired how nurses were fearless advocates, encouraging educators, and all of the above. I simply wanted to be there for people — for the big and little moments.

What do you love most about being a nurse?

The thing that I love most about being a nurse is getting to educate patients/families members and celebrating the many milestones that my patients reach together. Working in the NICU, I enjoy cheering on even the smallest of victories, because sometimes those are the ones that matter the most! There is so much growth in the NICU, it is incredible!

It is also very encouraging getting to see parents’ faces relax and smile when they receive education and information on their baby’s progress. A stay in the NICU can be an overwhelming time and not every visit to the NICU may be a good one. I find that it is rewarding being able to make them feel more comfortable and safe while equipping them with the knowledge that allows them to remain an active, important member of the patient care team. I want them to leave the unit trusting that their baby is in good hands.