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Leslie Santiago is in her fourth semester as a Nursing student at Jacksonville State University. The pandemic has made things somewhat challenging for Leslie. She’s had to learn to adapt to her learning environment is hybrid: half online, half in-person.

“COVID has impacted my nursing experience, along with everything else in the world. This disease has challenged me physically and mentally, but also has provided an opportunity to learn in unprecedented circumstances,” said Santiago.

Santiago believes learning in a different environment has helped her grow as an individual, by accepting the circumstances for what it is and continuing to move forward. She continues to make efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 by following healthcare guidelines. She explains the importance of safety during this time of COVID-19, and how we can make a difference by following these guidelines. “Now more than ever, the importance of safety is an essential principle towards protecting ourselves and loved ones during this time of Covid. There are simple steps we can minimize the spread of Covid, These include: wearing a mask, making sure the mask is on correctly, staying social distant, and proper hand hygiene,” Santiago said.

One of the most challenging circumstances that Santiago has gone through, is not being able to visit her family as she would like to. Her inspiration to become a nurse is to help others while keeping her family safe. “I do this because of their safety, I want them to be safe and let my family know that I want to help others stay safe as well,” Santiago said. She  has also experienced the behind-the-scenes of COVID-19. She had the opportunity to care for diagnosed coronavirus patients and realizes how this disease affects the body.

Referring to how patients progressively decline when it comes to COVID-19 and their health, “It (Covid) slowly debilitates and ultimately kills. Seeing patients unable to breathe on their own, while providing all available treatment and still not being able to help them get better, is heartbreaking,” Santiago said. Santiago talked about political views and misinformation by saying, “I hope you wouldn’t have to be in this situation (to have someone in your own life who has Covid) to understand that this is impacting people’s lives,” . She believes that, for the most part, people have been doing their part to minimizing the spread of this disease.

Santiago has also noticed that unfortunately, others are still dismissing this disease. “They (Individuals) are presented with factual evidence and still decide to be careless. It’s frustrating knowing that I go to clinicals, come back, and still see individuals refusing to believe that there is a pandemic currently going on right in front of their eyes….it’s astonishing,” Santiago said. Even though COVID-19 is a worldwide health concern, she believes that people made it out to be a political topic, “People, unfortunately, have made COVID politicized, resulting in a negative impact and prolonging this pandemic,” she states.

Santiago says she has to remind herself to take time for herself when she needs to, along with reminding herself that she can achieve anything she puts her mind to. She also wants to remind people to do the same. Even though there had been numerous times of stress and loss, Leslie continues to strive and keep going. She believes that being a nurse is essential during this pandemic. Maybe now more than ever, because nurses are the ones who are providing care right in front of the lines while meeting the needs of patient’s care.

With belief, despite fear and uncertainty, it is the nurse’s instinct as a profession to protect and care for others.

Leslie Santiago is a gentle soul who sees the good in people, wanting to show others that she cares knows that there is always someone out there who cares for others. Santiago would like would like to thank all of the current nurses and medical personnel who are currently caring for others during this pandemic, she appreciates you all.