Early Mornings and Late Nights: A Day in the Life of a Nurse

On International Nurses Day, here’s what an average day looks like in the life of a nurse at Apollo Hospital, Delhi.

3 min read

(World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated annually on 7 April. The theme for this year is to support nurses and midwives for their vital role in keeping the world healthy. FIT is republishing this story from its archives in light of this.)

Ruchi Girdhar wakes up at 5:30 am, prepares food for her family, drops her two kids at a creche and reaches Apollo Indraprastha Hospital, New Delhi by 8 am. She has been a nurse for the past 11 years, and despite familial and societal pressure, she refuses to quit her job.

Her story is only one in a sea of thousands of stories of nurses across the country. On International Nurses Day, here’s a glimpse into an average day in the life of a nurse.

Nurses work around the clock, with shifts ranging anywhere from nine hours to twelve, and quite often, over and above. For Ruchi as well, shifts often extend beyond the regulated hours. However, she enjoys interacting with them, also making it her favourite part of the job.

I really enjoy taking care of the patients, people who are sick and in need.
Ruchi Girdhar

What Are Some Lows of Being a Nurse?

Working as a nurse often requires her to spend more time away from her family and home.
Working as a nurse often requires her to spend more time away from her family and home.
(Photo: Athar Rather/FIT)

Working as a nurse often requires her to spend more time away from her family and home. She regrets the gender binary which places more responsibility on her to take care of the house than men. Yet, despite all obstacles, Ruchi perseveres.

When it comes to her least favourite part of being a nurse, Ruchi says it’s the lack of ease to take leaves.

Professions like teaching have summer vacations, winter vacations. We don’t enjoy that luxury. We are bound by our shifts; life is easier in some other professions, I feel.
Ruchi Girdhar

The Emotional Demands of Being a Nurse

‘Emotional attachment with patients is inevitable.’
‘Emotional attachment with patients is inevitable.’
(Photo: Athar Rather/FIT)

Emotional attachment with patients is inevitable, says Ruchi with a rueful smile. It’s harder, she adds, when despite their best efforts, they cannot help a patient.

Looking at her own experience, she recalls a very young patient who could not be saved. This, however, is also a part of the job she has learned to make peace with.

Life of a Nurse in India

Nursing as a profession has undergone several upheavals lately in the country. From protests for salary hikes to better work conditions in the face of hierarchies of the healthcare system, often discouraging others from joining the profession.

As of May 2017, India was short of 1.94 million nurses, according to an IndiaSpend report.

As of World Health Organisation’s data from 2006, there were 865,135 nurses in the country. By 2030, India will need 6 million nurses. Currently, the country ranks at a dismal 112 in ranking of health systems globally.

Camera: Abhishek Ranjan, Athar Rather
Assisted by: James Kannanthara
Editor: Rahul Sanpui

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