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Essential Worker spotlight: New nursing grad never imagined being on the front line of a global crisis

Victoria Falvo, 24, specializes in geriatrics and palliative care

Sudbury.com's Essential Worker of the Day is a new daily feature that applauds our local health care and other essential workers who continue to serve our community during these uncertain times. We honour an essential worker every day at noon. But that's not all. Every other Wednesday, we will feature an essential worker as part of our Community Leaders Program. 

Today, as part of National Nursing Week, we are sharing the story of a new nursing graduate who found herself in the middle of a global crisis.

When Victoria Falvo earned her nursing degree in June 2019, she never imagined she would be working on the front line of a pandemic just eight months later.

"I think I can safely speak for all the new grads out there when I say it’s been a challenge for sure and school did not prepare us for this," Falvo told Sudbury.com. 

"Being a new grad is nerve racking enough, but now you have the added stress of dealing with something that’s completely foreign to everyone. You’re basically trying to navigate new environments, learn new things, and at the same time everything is changing."

The 25-year-old landed her first job specializing in geriatrics and palliative care at St. Joseph's Villa and has recently accepted a new role at Bayshore Home Health where she looks forward to doing home visits. 

In light of COVID-19, Falvo said the average workday is a lot busier and at times more stressful in terms of routine. The added process of donning and doffing personal protective equipment (PPE) takes time, and Falvo said the extra precautions can be mentally exhausting as well. 

"Not only are you trying to manage your time appropriately, but you’re also thinking about every single thing you’re doing to make sure you are taking those extra precautions to protect your patients and yourself," she said.

Despite the challenges, Falvo said she is proud to be part of the fight against COVID-19 and enjoys working alongside "some amazing people in the process."

In terms of morale among her colleagues, Falvo admits that frustration and exhaustion are not unfamiliar feelings for those who work in health care. 

"You are caring for very sick people who are completely dependent on you," she said. "It’s only natural to feel drained emotionally, mentally and physically at times," she said.

"Even in less than one year of being a nurse, I’ve personally had shifts where it’s been difficult to stay positive.

"But seeing how everyone has banned together to support, protect, and care for one another during this crisis has really helped cast out a lot of that negativity. I love the relationships you build working in health care; with patients and colleagues.

"This pandemic is a learning experience in itself for all of us; health care and non-health care workers. I am so proud to be part of the fight and surrounded by other amazing nurses in the process."

Aside from a busy career, Falvo and fiancé Tim MacDonell had planned to get married in Killarney this July, but have since decided to postpone the event.

The couple were fortunate to get their deposits back in full and rebook for next summer.

They are looking forward to celebrating with their friends and family once this is all over.

Do you know an essential worker who deserves to be recognized? Say thanks to someone you know who is a front-line health-care worker, cashier or truck driver by sending in a photo, their name, their job title and your words of thanks to holiver@sudbury.com. Please only send photos and information with permission.