Recent graduate's advice on the challenges and opportunities of working in a Covid setting

Ellis Porter had only worked at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals for eight months before becoming part of the Covid medicals team in March 2020.

Ellis Porter
Ellis Porter

'The pressure and uncertainty of being on the Covid wards felt like being thrown in at the deep end, there were many moments when we all felt like we were sinking but through supporting each other we managed to keep our heads above the water and get through it.

Exciting and scary

At first it was as exciting as it was scary, dealing with patient presentations that even the most experienced therapists at the trust had never seen before, but after a while the devastation the virus was causing was starting to hit home. 

During the start of the pandemic I was surprised by seeing patients’ oxygen saturations drop to low 70s just from transferring from bed to chair. I became more cautious of monitoring and observing my patients throughout treatment and would have an escalation plan prior such as knowing where the nearest nasal cannulas or a non-rebreather mask were.

Ellis completed an MSc physiotherapy at York St John, graduated in February 2019 and started working at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals in August 2019. He has recently been successful in applying for a band 6 rotational post.

Respiratory challenge

Due to how fatigued and poorly these patients were, we were often trying to rehab people who had barely moved for days, this was very challenging in times where patient numbers were increasing. The respiratory side of Covid was also challenging, where we were the only people in the world asking Covid patients to cough at us. 

My advice to new graduates who may be exposed to Covid is encourage their patients to take their time, always have an escalation plan in place for oxygen and if you need help don’t be afraid to ask for it.

I feel like I’ve developed as a therapist more than I’d ever have expected in a short period of time through treating Covid patients.

Despite this being a very difficult time for everybody in the NHS, it presents an opportunity to learn and take on responsibility more than ever before.' 

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