At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, residents took to their balconies to offer raucous cheers of support for their nations’ healthcare workers. The practice quickly spread to the rest of the world; applause would ring out nightly in the streets, as communities united in solidarity behind the men and women on the frontline.
2008 ISD graduate Orla Noble is a trauma nurse at Klinikum im Friedrichshain, Berlin. For Orla, the public’s showing of support for the healthcare sector was a welcome boost, as the vast human toll of the virus became ever apparent. Importantly, though, she believes this sense of appreciation needs to be sustained.
“One of the most important things that came out of this was this sudden showing of appreciation for healthcare workers, but it seemed to wear away pretty quickly,” Orla said.
“I wasn’t working in a COVID ward, but when you’re presented with a trauma case, there’s always a risk the patient could carry an infection, whether it’s hepatitis or something else. This is the daily reality for hospital workers and it’s important for people to recognise that that’s our experience.”
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, various wards were designated for patients infected with the virus. Virtually all elective surgery was cancelled and doctors were given crash courses in using new respiratory equipment.
“The main impact we felt was in the lack of equipment,” Orla explained.
“At the beginning there were cases of protective clothing being stolen from the hospital. Hospital pharmacies started mixing their own disinfectant so we’d have enough. Despite all of that, we were still able to get by. If infection rates were on the scale of Italy or Spain it would have been a different story.”
Nursing was not always Orla Noble’s preferred career path. After graduating from ISD, she travelled to her home country of Ireland to study German and French. After two semesters, she returned to Düsseldorf feeling a bit uncertain and in search of a new direction. It was around this time that she first discovered a passion for nursing during an internship with an anaesthetist.
Now, nursing is a career path she enthusiastically recommends.
“Nursing can be an amazing job for a lot of people. It’s not just about what you learn in maths and science; a lot of the skills and qualities you learn in the IB prepare you for this career,” she said.
In addition, Orla points out that the international environment at ISD prepared her well for life beyond school and shaped the outlook she holds today.
“Internationalism is omnipresent. The other day I was in the operating room and there were something like nine nationalities represented. It reminded me a lot of ISD.”
“Growing up at ISD, you don’t think about what a privilege it is to learn and grow with other cultures. And for me, that’s the most fantastic thing about the school.”