Profile: Pratikshya Pokhrel cares for patients
“Devastating” is the term Pratikshya Pokhrel uses to describe her experiences at her first nursing job, which involved looking after patients in a COVID-19 ward during the pandemic in her home country of Nepal.
“Seeing patients suffering so hard to breathe was heartbreaking,” Pokhrel said. “They were fighting for their lives.”
Still, Pokhrel feels glad to have served those people.
“Many of them survived,” Pokhrel said, “and many patients died too.”
‘We were so scared to go anywhere’
Pokhrel has been a foreign exchange student since January at Washburn University, where she works for Student Health Services and is earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing. Pokhrel grew up in Nepal, where she had just earned her nursing certificate when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“When Covid first started, I was at home with my parents for six months,” Pokhrel said. “The government had given strict orders to shut down everything like markets, transportation, school/college — everything. We were so scared to go anywhere because of the daily news of how people were suffering and dying.”
Pokhrel was then hired by one of her country’s top five medical facilities, Vayodha Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal. She started out working in a COVID-19 ward, regularly looking after 12 patients on her own for eight hours.
“The mortality and morbidity rate were very high at first, then it started decreasing slowly,” Pokhrel said. “Almost all people were vaccinated, and the victims were recovering.”
The first in her family to travel
After two and a half years as a nurse in Nepal, Pokhrel applied successfully to attend Washburn, which she chose because of the positive reputation of its School of Nursing.
Leaving home to travel thousands of miles to live in an unfamiliar place wasn’t easy for her.
“One of the difficulties was that I had never traveled so far and was the first in my family to travel,” Pokhrel said.
The experience was exciting and scary at the same time, Pokhrel said. But today, she said, she is doing well in her studies and her job and enjoying life at Washburn.
‘Really passionate about everything she does’
“I met Pratikshya at the airport while coming to the United States from Nepal and we both have the same majors and classes as well,” said Pokhrel’s friend, Shital Namang. “That’s how we became friends gradually.”
Namang describes Pokhrel as a hard worker and an understanding person.
“She is really passionate about everything she does,” Namang said. “On top of that, she is smart and good at her studies as well, so her work and college are going pretty smoothly.”
‘Very kind to the patients’
Of all the things Pokhrel does in her life, she most enjoys her job with Student Health Services.
According to Tiffany McManis, director of Student Health Services, Pokhrel appears to be adjusting well to her new surroundings.
“She received a great deal of nursing training in Nepal and brings her valuable knowledge to Student Health Services,” McManis said. “We feel very fortunate to have her as a part of our team.”
Pokhrel is very knowledgeable and an exceptional team player, McManis added.
“She is very thorough in her work and very kind to the patients she cares for,” McManis said.
Coping with Covid is ‘not like before’
Pokhrel said she actually wants to focus on geriatric nursing and earn a master’s degree focusing on that area. She said she loves talking with older people and wants to work with them. As an employee at Washburn Student Health, Pokhrel has once again helped many COVID-19 patients, though this time the experience has been less traumatic. Though COVID-19 hasn’t been totally eradicated, she said, “now the situation is not bad as before.”