Expressing our Experience: Health Staff Experience of Working During COVID-19 in Tasmania, Australia

Dr  Eliza  Burke, Dr  Claire Morely, Dr Karen  Ford, Ms Leigh Tesch, Ms Jenni Pyefinch, Ms Erin  Mcleod, Ms  Laura  Pyszkowski

1Ths-south, Hobart , Australia



The current pandemic situation is unprecedented and the impacts for all members of the community are significant. Understanding the experiences of staff is important to enable appropriate response to their needs, as well as providing a solid foundation on which to base future staff-directed initiatives to facilitate staff wellbeing. Arts-based research can offer multiple ways of exploring an issue and can generate rich and evocative data and provide a safe space for participants to express themselves, facilitate richer reflection and dialogue, and enable them to better articulate their unique experiences.


This was a qualitative arts-based research study, staff were invited to reflect on their experiences of working in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic and submit a creative artwork of their choice to represent their experience.  The artworks and statements were exhibited at the healthcare facility. The works and statements were thematically analysed.


Twenty-three separate artworks were submitted by up to twenty staff members. Submitted works included paintings, poetry, photography, instillations, prose, crochet, music, and songs. Analysis of the exhibits themselves, along with the artists’ statements, identified the themes of self-care, isolation, uncertainty, identity, and emotional response. The theme of emotional response provided insights into both the experiences and vulnerability of the workforce and their personal experience of the pandemic. Resoundingly, despite the number of negative emotional stressors identified, there was evidence of stronger connection to one’s workplace and peers. This was experienced as a sense of pride, responsibility, and respect for the team.


Laura Pyszkowski: Laura is the Assistant Director of Nursing for the Acute Medicine Stream at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Laura completed her Master in Cancer Nursing in 2014. Laura is an active member of both the Cancer Nurses Society of Australia (CNSA) and Australian College of Nursing (ACN). Laura is committed and passionate about the role nurses play in improving outcomes for individuals affected by cancer and practice development