'Running toward the battle': How this award-winning UPEI nursing student navigates the pandemic

·3 min read
Courage Nappier has been recognized with an award from Andrews Senior Care, one of the organization for which he did on-the-job nursing training. (Submitted by Courage Nappier - image credit)
Courage Nappier has been recognized with an award from Andrews Senior Care, one of the organization for which he did on-the-job nursing training. (Submitted by Courage Nappier - image credit)

When Courage Nappier signed up for the nursing program at the University of Prince Edward Island, he knew it would be tough. But he didn't expect the added challenges caused by the pandemic.

Originally from Nigeria, the third-year student in the bachelor of science in nursing program has done on-the-job training in a number of health-care facilities on P.E.I. including the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Garden Home in Charlottetown.

Nappier has seen patients die of COVID, but also the emotional toll the pandemic has had on elderly patients who couldn't see their families. He tried his best keeping them company, chatting and playing games with them as much as he could.

"It's our job to try to have empathy, understand where the patient is coming from and just try to remain professional, not give in to our emotion," he said.

Recently, Nappier was recognized for the work he's been doing. He won the Andrews Senior Care Nursing Award in April, given annually to a UPEI student.

The award goes to someone who "demonstrates a commitment to Andrews' pillars of community, care and collaboration," according to a post on the Andrews Senior Care Facebook page. Andrews Senior Care has five community-care facilities in Charlottetown, Summerside and Stratford.

'A patient is more than a diagnosis'

Nappier embraced the challenges of doing on-the-job training during the pandemic.

"If your motivation is from within and you really want to be a nurse and understand what it is to be a nurse, it means you're not running away from the bad. You're running toward the battle," he said.

"If you get through it, it only makes you stronger. It made me stronger."

Apart from the challenges, there were many moments Nappier enjoyed, such as his one-and-one conversations with patients.

In the clinics he worked in, he spoke with patients complaining about physical problems such as back pain and headache. But when the clients mentioned some personal issues, Nappier realized those health problems weren't just physical.

"If you explore into their social life, you realize maybe they have been lonely, maybe they have been depressed. And if you've been depressed, sometimes one can come feeling tired, losing weight. They have no motivation to leave bed or to do anything. And so they don't eat, so they lose weight, they feel tired," he said.

"And it's just to have some psychological symptoms that manifest as physical symptoms.

Nappier calls that a holistic approach — taking in many factors when providing care for a patient.

"We don't focus on only just the physical health problem of the patient. We also focus on how that problem could affect the patient, emotional health, spiritual health, psychological health, and how that illness can affect the patient's family health," he said.

"A patient is more than a diagnosis."

Now entering his fourth year of the nursing program, Nappier has a tight schedule.

He's trying to finish school and, once he graduates, he'll see what options he has on P.E.I. He's also hoping to learn more about mental health — something he has become more passionate about after having done on-the-job training in walk-in clinics.

"I'm just going to take things one step at a time," he said.

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