Published: 2021-04-15 09:37 | Updated: 2021-04-15 09:39

Distance learning and working extra in healthcare has been the new everyday life for KI student Oscar

Since March 2020, healthcare has acted "front line" in the fight against COVID-19. Many KI students have worked extra in healthcare during this period, and at the same time, they had to adapt to new routines with distance learning. One of the students who managed to juggle distance learning with an extra job within healthcare is the medical student Oscar Dwyer.

Oscar is in his ninth semester of the medical programme at Karolinska Institutet and works extra in the intensive care unit (IVA) at Södersjukhuset. He is also involved in the union, Medicinska Föreningen, and in the association Blåslaget, which is the union's orchestra and dance group. Oscar told us about his experience of working as an assistant nurse during the pandemic. It was during May last year that an older student told him that IVA at Södersjukhuset was looking for assistant nurses and shortly afterward Oscar was offered the job.

- Usually, I work evenings and days, around seven to eight hours, but sometimes also night shifts. As an assistant nurse, I am the one who has the primary responsibility for the care of patients since the nurses handle the extensive work with the medication. I work very closely in pairs with a nurse. The patients are often quite ill and require constant monitoring, therefore we are not responsible for more than two or three patients at a time.

Oscar at a coffee break during a work shift at IVA with blue scruba with a coffee cup
Oscar is having a coffee during his work break at IVA. Photo: Private

The extensive introduction was important to feel comfortable in the job

During the first few weeks, Oscar walked alongside another more experienced assistant nurse. As many patients in the ward are often weak and the conditions can change quickly, the introduction for new staff is comprehensive.

- I have always been able to ask someone if I felt insecure in any way. It also made it easier to work in a team and not be alone.

He explains that the workload constantly varies during a work shift and that it can quickly go from being calm to an emergency.

- Despite all monitoring and all preventive work, I think it is very common in this form of care with rapid changes, which I feel is important to adapt to. It is important not to stress and I think it is important to be able to talk to each other in the workplace about what has been difficult or might not have gone as intended during a session to avoid stress.

It attracts to work with intensive care in the future 

Oscar says that it has felt good to be able to help and work extra during the coronavirus pandemic.

- It has been impressive to see the endurance of those who work in the fight against the virus.

He says that he can imagine continuing to work in intensive care in the future. Even though it is an intensive job with long working days, he thinks it is exciting.

- It is a bit nervous that my degree is only a year away! I am very happy to be able to be part of the commitments I participate in and I hope to be able to stay in Stockholm for a while, but eventually, I think it might be good to work in healthcare somewhere else as well. And there are so many exciting specialties to work in, but I have thought about intensive care!