On the Front Line
Rosalba Cicale, Certified and Registered Nurse
Ripalta, known to family and friends simply as 'Tina', a dear friend of mine who unfortunately is no longer among us, one day said to me “Teresa, I have the best job in the world! You cannot have a job like mine or that of a physician just to get a salary at the end of each month. You must feel it as your true vocation, as your call."
Tina was a nurse who loved what she did. She loved studying, continuously improving herself as a person and as a professional, but above all she loved helping others, taking care of them, and seeing their health restored. She was a first class lady, an exceptional nurse, an exemplary mother, and wife.
I will always carry her in my heart.
Even today, I feel honored to have doctors and nurses among my closest friends who go above and beyond what their role would require at work. And this without mentioning the fact that, in addition to being underpaid and under-staffed for too long due to wicked and irresponsible policies, they also have a family and every day they run the risk of being infected – especially in times like this in which we witness the spread of a pandemic such as COVID-19 which makes them live in a continuous state of concern (hence of stress) for their own health and that of their family members.
Today, I am very happy, therefore, to introduce to all of you a special friend who, in addition to being an extraordinary mother and woman, is also a nurse: Rosalba Cicale. Rosalba is also very knowledgeable and competent and, like many of her colleagues, not only Italian but from all over the world, she fights "on the front line" for the health of all of us – even of those who, despite the seriousness of the worldwide current situation, continue to look only 'to their own backyard' feeling absolutely safe, untouchable, immune to any danger and risk of contagion while the number of the latter, and unfortunately also of the deaths, continues to rise.
MTDD: Hi Rosalba and welcome to my Blog and Virtual Cultural Lounge. Thank you very much for taking the time to participate in our interview.
RC: Thanks to you.
MTDD: Rosalba, why don't you start by introducing yourself and by telling us a little about yourself, from your studies to your profession and whatever else you want to share with our male and female readers?
RC: I am 54 years old and have been already 35 years in service in the healthcare field. I am married, have 2 children and 2 grandchildren; I love gardening. I started my career at 16 years old (2 years of teacher training college with admission to the third year) – which was one of the options in those days. I attended the professional nurse training at the 'Agostino Gemelli' Hospital in Rome.
MTDD: Why did you opt for this career?
RC: When I was 10 years old, my father had a terrible accident and was hospitalized for 3 months. When I went to see him I saw these nurses being so cheerful in the ward and it enchanted me. And so I decided to go for this career...
MTDD: What specializations have you achieved and in which departments have you worked so far?
RC: I graduated from the Gemelli Polyclinic and then I took the specialization in Anesthesia and Resuscitation. I worked many years (18) in Surgery and Intensive Care. During the summer they sent me to the Emergency room because I was the youngest; later I worked in Audiology and Pediatrics for 2 years; then I spent a few years in Histopathology and now I am in a multidisciplinary DAY Hospital, but above all I am an R.A.I. (Responsabile Assistenza Infermieristica, that is, Nursing Care Supervisor) of Eye Surgery (I hope only for a little while longer because I would really like to go back to my nursing activity...)
MTDD: Tell us about your typical day at work.
RC: A 'simple' day is difficult to have ... But it should go more or less like this: you clock in, put your uniform on, reach your department, consult with your colleague, that is, the one who has just finished their shift and that you are going to replace. We take stock of the department (interventions, exams, samples ...). We organize ourselves as for therapies, beds, medical examination; we divide the work according to how many we are and who we are, and then start with our own tasks (job). Once all is done, we return to the Back-office and record the various data; if we succeed we take a break (something that happens very rarely), sometimes we are lucky though ... Then we do the briefing with the physicians and the Chief Medical Officer. If needed, modifications are made to some therapies and new clinical tests are required; the surgical list is prepared ... Then everything is recorded again in the nursing records and in the PC programs. Considering the various bells that ring (that is, people calling us for assistance) and the unexpected events that may take place we reached the time of shift change. The various emergencies and contingencies are briefly explained to the colleagues of the following shift. We greet everybody and clock out. We change and go home to be mothers, grandmothers, wives, daughters ...
MTDD: What would you recommend to children who, by reading our interview, might decide to undertake this career?
RC: If you really like this job, go for it, otherwise it is not a job that you can get to simply make a living ... This involves a kind of 'life' you must like: you will be living at night while the world will be sleeping ...
MTDD: How has health care changed over the years since you started working as a nurse until today?
RC: Very much indeed... We as professionals have 'grown'; we have evolved, kept ourselves updated, also because medicine goes on and we must always be ready to understand and do new things. But as acknowledgments to the profession, as salaries and as considerations by the Government or the public, we have lost a lot. We are considered the 'medical malpractice' or 'the little smart aleck” when it comes to working hours...
MTDD: If we wished to talk about the ‘advantages’ and ‘disadvantages’ of
your work, what would you indicate?
RC: The advantage is that you will be doing something good, useful. Being up to a situation or dealing with emergencies is rewarding. The disadvantages are a little more ... Arriving at or missing some ceremony because of your shift or because your colleague couldn’t come at work, the salary, the holidays, the user who looks at us with suspicion, the holidays (as in this period) that are being revoked ...
MTDD: If you had the opportunity to go directly to politicians and institutions, what suggestions would you give? Where should we start to improve the situation?
RC: First of all from the materials: those that give us, both in quantity and in quality, are very scarce ... They should hire to make the turnover with us older people, reopen the existing hospitals not to imprint field hospitals ... because the facilities are there !! And if they could remember us also at an economic level since the salary is always the same while the rates, the VAT, the municipal and regional surcharges keep increasing ...
MTDD: COVID-19 - How is Italy managing it and what advice would you give to all of us and especially to those who, as I mentioned at the beginning, seem to underestimate the seriousness of the problem?
RC: As I said, the Government, generally speaking, does not think about public health because its members have the opportunity to opt for the private health care system and therefore save money on the public health care system and on the health of the people and when these things take place they turn into tragedies ... but for us. However, our major health care problem is caused by the many politicians who are arrogant and disregard the opinion of the experts in our field. I would advise the public at large to abide by the provisions.
MTDD: Is there any other information or other aspect that we have not covered and that you would like to add before ending our interview?
RC: I don't think so ... Maybe I said too much ...
MTDD: Thank you, Rosalba, for participating in this interview and for all the advices and information you have provided. Good luck to you and your colleagues. I wish to all of us that we can all stay healthy by overcoming this pandemic as soon as possible.
RC: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make 'our' voice heard. Let’s hope everything goes well for everyone❤️