An Interview with Emily Reba, RN


What is your current title?
Emily: I'm a registered nurse.

Where do you work currently?
E: I work in Washington DC at a Children's Hospital in their emergency department.

How many years of experience do you have?
E: I just had my one year in February.

How are you liking it so far? 
E: It was a little rough starting because it started right when the pandemic hit, so things have never been “normal.” But it has been a great experience and I love working with kids, so it has been a great fit for me. 

Do you clean your work shoes at all while you’re at work?
E: Sometimes if it's been grosser than normal, I’ll take the wipes and just wipe the bottom of them down and then when I get home I’ll go throw them in the washing machine. 

Do you feel that your work shoes are sufficiently clean after cleaning them?
E: The shoes I wear right now to work have rubber soles but the rest of the shoe is mesh, so I feel like I have to throw them in the washing machine in order to get the mesh part actually clean.

Do you worry about infection exposure from your shoes and transporting that?
E: Once I leave the hospital I take my work shoes off and leave them in my trunk.

Do you clean them at all at home, other than when you just toss them in the wash? 
E: Not usually. Sometimes I spray them down with Lysol but again I don't really feel like it gets the mesh part clean.

What kinds of routines or rituals do you have between work and getting home?
E: I'll take off my shoes before I get in my car and then I'll drive home in my scrubs. At the start of the pandemic I brought an extra change of clothes and I took off my scrubs and everything before I even left work. Now as soon as I get home I just jump in the shower I won't touch anything or hug anybody or whatever until after that.  

Have you ever gotten sick from something you picked up at work?
E: When I was a nursing student, so I guess two years ago. In the winter time everyone's coming to the emergency room for flus and colds and coughs, and this was before anyone wore masks. I know for sure like I got sick multiple times that winter just because of people coughing on me. Kids aren’t clean per say, they don’t pay attention to covering their mouths, so I definitely got a few colds from that.

Have you ever gotten someone else at home sick from one of those illnesses that you caught at work?
E: I don’t remember specifically, but I’m sure I have given them a cold or something. Now with Covid, bringing that home to my friends and family is always on my mind. 

What does a typical day at work look like for you? 
E: In the emergency room, when we get to work we have an assignment so rooms 1 through 4 or rooms 5 through 9. If any patients that are there are in your assignment you get a report from the night shift nurse or the day shift nurse. And new patients come in and out all shift. It's a pretty good flow. Then you do your nursing assessment and the doctor comes in and does their assessment. The doctor will usually order labs, blood, urine, whatever they need and then we, the nurses, get those orders fulfilled. If they're going to be admitted then we have to go check on them every hour or so depending on how sick they are and do vital signs. If there's a code or super sick person that comes in then we may need the whole team together, so you’ll have your role in that too. It’s a lot of responsibility. 

Do you work in an area with Covid risk?
E: Yes.

Do you work around infectious fluids on a regular basis?
E: Yes. 

How do you currently protect yourself from those like infectious fluids at work?
E: I wear my N95 in every room.Technically you only have to wear surgical masks in each room unless the patient has Covid symptoms, but I wear my n95 in every room and layer a surgical mask on top of it. A face shield or goggles depending. I wear a scrub cap so all my hair under that. We have gowns and gloves.

What are your biggest concerns safety wise in your current work setting?
E: I would say either going into a room where there's something infectious and then going into another room and potentially infecting that kid when they shouldn't be exposed in the first place, or bringing something home to my friends are family. That’s always a fear. 

Have you ever had an incident at work that impacted your safety because of these infectious fluids?
E: We were trying to get urine from a baby and they peed, which got all over me all over my scrubs and I didn't have a change of clothes. I thought like my unit would have extra scrubs but no one had extra scrubs. I tried to clean it off as best as I could but I really didn't have a choice, I had to do the rest of my shift with pee all over me. Looking back, that was very unsanitary and very unsafe. Like I said I tried to clean it as best as I could, but obviously the best thing would’ve been to change clothes and I couldn’t do that. 

I bet after that you always made sure to bring a second set of scrubs.
E: I keep an extra pair in my car at all times.