Growing up in the Philippines and having family ties to the nursing profession, Sigma member Simon Paul P. Navarro, BSN, RN, always knew that nursing was the career for him. Seeing his families’ caring attitude and compassion for helping others inspired him to follow in their footsteps.
Like so many growing up in a low-income country, he dreamed of being able to help his family financially while also providing hope to strangers. But what he found out was far from the picture he had painted in his head.
“Filipino nurses in the country, we’re working beyond the ideal shifting cycles or hours, handling different types of patients inappropriate to the number of nurses available, and getting non-competitive salaries. These working conditions are not standard and beyond the international recommendation in the nursing practice.”
To help maintain his sanity, provide the best care possible to patients, and also deal with the many stresses of the job, Simon searched for a self-care solution. Knowing he needed some time for himself to restart and recharge, he found healing in traveling.
“Offering yourself to someone who’s sick and taking care of them drains you as an individual person and human-being. It’s a hard truth and fact that our job as nurses is an exhausting one. We are knowledge workers who are vulnerable to mental fatigue. And with that, we need to find ways to recuperate ourselves from the toxicities brought by our profession.”
Witnessing first-hand different cultures and traditions have enhanced his core values as a nurse—respect for others, being kind, and showing empathy. But when COVID-19 struck the world, Simon’s ability to take care of his own mental health was challenged. All travel came to a halt and he had to find new ways to manage the physical and emotional challenges that cause him stress.
For the first time in his professional career, he struggles with feeling helpless. “Seeing someone in pain or feeling miserable and knowing there’s nothing you can do to help our patients during this pandemic is the most difficult thing I deal with. I am a nurse because I genuinely care about people and want to help them to restore their health; but when I can’t do anything because of uncertainties brought on by this condition, that’s really hard. Sometimes I’ll just ask myself mentally, ‘Am I not enough?’ or ‘Where was I lacking?’”
While he is still finding ways to cope and find his “new normal,” he is certain that there will be a time to travel and resume the life that COVID-19 has currently taken from us.
“As nurses, we have our own definition of success, which are manifested by various accomplishments in our personal and professional life. However, I do believe that being present in the nursing profession during this time of pandemic, either clinical or non-clinical, is the best accomplishment for us nurses to be proud of. Kudos to all of us healthcare providers.”
Simon Paul P. Navarro, BSN, RN, currently works as a full-time surgical ICU nurse and is finishing his master’s degree in nursing at the University of the Philippines. He is also a part-time nursing faculty member teaching health assessment, nursing pharmacology, and medical-surgical nursing to students enrolled in the BSN program. He is a proud member of both Sigma’s Psi Beta and Nu Beta at-Large chapters. We are grateful for his commitment as a volunteer on Sigma’s International Nurse Leader Review Committee, where he checks and evaluates Sigma membership applications of nurses worldwide.