This essay is from a finalist for the 2020 Student Loan Planner Scholarship.
I have been working in healthcare for over ten years. I was constantly driven for the challenge in a high paced environment, using critical thinking, while also being able to show compassion for others. I thoroughly enjoyed being a piece of what could make a patient’s care optimal.
Once I became a Radiologic Technologist, I thought I was fully prepared for all situations my career may put me in. However, no schooling or years of experience could have prepared me for the toll that Covid-19 would take on my life.
This pandemic and deadly virus has impacted my life mentally, physically, and financially. One of the biggest issues though is how it has caused my future financially to be halted due to my student loan. The Coronavirus has forced me to halt my payments due to the instability and uncertainty of the future.
Before the virus struck the world, I was working two jobs to put any extra dollar I could towards my student loan. I felt like I was always chasing the interest but was working so hard to get ahead. Once the pandemic began there was a fear of the unknown. I was working at an orthopedic office when all elective procedures were canceled. Many staff members were being furloughed, terminated, and laid off as a result. I had to stop making my student loan payment because I was afraid if I didn’t set any money aside or buy extra supplies, I may be struggling if I were to be furloughed or terminated as well. My fiancé works as an electrician and there was a chance he could have been laid off as well. Due to the uncertainty of our future, we had to make certain cuts to help protect us.
Quickly I realized my position was safe when I was assigned to work the frontline at the Covid-19 tents through my employer. This caused relief and fear all in one. Along with this role, I was also working as a Radiologic Technologist at my second job at an acute care hospital where I would be taking radiographic imaging of their patients who were admitted and positive for Coronavirus.
Although I loved that I would be a big part of helping during this pandemic, I knew I would be exponentially increasing my chances of getting the virus while also exposing it to those in my home. Due to this risk, once again, payments on my student loan were affected. Due to the fear of getting sick, I had to pay extra towards bills and debts to make sure I would be financially stable if I did become sick or was forced to quarantine.
Along with the need to feel prepared for the future, the pandemic has also affected my education. I was wanting to go back to school to advance in my career but due to my student loan still not being paid off and the possible risks I am unable to move forward.
Overall, the pandemic has had a huge effect on my day to day life and my future as a whole. I am working in all types of weather elements outside on the front line at the Covid-19 tents while seeing over 400 patients a day in full PPE. I am working in a high-risk area performing exams on the Covid-19 units of the hospital as well.
Not only am I not receiving hazard pay but our promotions and annual raises have all been put on hold. Even though our facility is filling and the tent is consistently busy, there is still a second round of furloughs, lay-offs, and termination happening which puts my career at risk.
Due to the high risk for my health, current career, and future opportunities, my life has been affected in so many ways, but my student loan is one of the biggest stressors that hangs on my shoulders. Any break in this stress could help me and my future family advance forward during this tragic pandemic.