MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for the healthcare industry, especially considering how short-staffed many hospitals have been. That is why the news that two international nurses would be coming to Morgantown was met with excitement.
Michael Awotula, RN, and Israel Keshinro, RN, are two months into their first nursing jobs in Morgantown, a long way from their homes in Nigeria, Africa, and even Texas, where both attended nursing school. The two men met in Texas while studying at Panola College, Carthage, Texas. They both graduated from the University of Texas at Tyler. Now, they work at Acuity Specialty Hospital, where they provide long-term acute care to critically ill and medically complex patients.
“It’s very rewarding and very satisfying to see, to be able to take care of patients that are very sick, especially here, where I work,” Keshinro said. “You see patients coming in very sick. They need a lot of stuff respiratory-wise and in terms of care. Being able to take care of them and at the end of the day seeing them well and going to be discharged is very rewarding because you feel like you are able to — you are departing the patient onto the recovery process and making them well at the end of the day. So it’s definitely rewarding getting patients to their very best at the end of the day.”
Awotula echoed his colleague’s sentiment, saying that he, too, felt his job was rewarding because it is very critical to battling the pandemic.
“It’s been rewarding because it gives you that sense of belonging to something bigger, the nursing community at large,” Awotula said. “We all know that nurses are short-staffed, or rather that we have a shortage of nurses, everywhere, not just in America. We also have a very high influx of patients coming to the hospital and they are critical patients also, obviously because of COVID-19. So Acuity gives me that opportunity to get to see people who are coming in with very high severity of cases of respiratory illnesses to be precise and you’re learning and also you’re joining thousands and thousands of nurses that are joining the fight in order to care for people.”
Awotula and Keshinro both graduated in Aug. 2020, so they were aware of the likelihood that they would begin their careers dealing with COVID. However, this did not deter them.
In fact, Awotula said, they actually had a disaster preparedness course in school that helped prepare them for any situation. Furthermore, both men said their education was so sound when learning about proper personal protective equipment (PPE) use, handwashing, and everything else that they were ready as soon as they arrived.
Now that they are in West Virginia, life has been busy.
“I remember in nursing school my lecturer used to say ‘it’s not every time you get an opportunity to be a lifesaver, some days it’s like a job, some days you have to just maintain the patients, while other days you pretty much have to stand up and save lives’,” Awotula said. “I didn’t expect it was going to be that fast for me to start saving lives.”
Despite being busier than he anticipated, Awotula said he still feels like he and Keshinro are well suited for the job. Plus Keshinro said, the work they do is important and needs to be done.
“I am glad to join the fight — to fight this virus and I hope we become victorious,” Keshinro said.
Both RNs said that they did not expect the COVID-19 crisis to propel into a pandemic, but they realize the pandemic has taught the world the importance of healthcare workers, especially nurses. There was a nursing shortage globally prior to the pandemic and they hope more people will pursue careers in healthcare to mitigate this problem.
Awotula reiterated his point about nursing being rewarding and said anyone who is interested in caring for others and saving lives should seriously consider a career.
“It is important, people should look toward nursing and take classes,” he said.
Keshinro agreed wholeheartedly, saying COVID has changed the way the world thinks and hopefully that will help change the field.
“COVID has shown the whole world how to use PPE, how important it is and how important it is to protect ourselves from this virus,” Keshinro said. ” It has opened the eyes of the world to see how important nursing is. I think it’s opened the eyes of the world to the medical field and careers and how important they are.”