Nurses Tell All: @RachelSantana Tells Us What It’s Like to Be the TikTok Nurse

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At SimpleNursing, we are absolutely thrilled to announce our newest must-watch series: “Nurses Tell All.” In this episode, Nurse Mike talks to Nurse Rachel (@RachelSantana) about being a brand new nurse when COVID-19 hit, navigating social media fame as a nursing professional, and even experiencing nursing burnout. Trust us, you’re gonna want to hear this!

We asked: “What was your first day on the job like?”

Rachel Santana doesn’t feel particularly lucky when she thinks back to her first day as a nurse. It was March 2020, and nobody really knew what COVID-19 even was. “We thought it was, like, super contagious,” she remembers, because all that was known at the time was that the disease was transmitted in a similar way as tuberculosis, and that comparison was terrifying in and of itself. 

When Rachel arrived at work, she found out there was a patient with COVID-19 in the ICU. She says she felt scared and wasn’t sure what to think. Fast forward to a month later, when Rachel’s unit was converted into the hospital’s COVID-19 unit. There really wasn’t anything she could do about it, Rachel says, adding, “I just had to adapt.” And even though Rachel feels that, ultimately, her placement did train her well and prepare her for nursing, what happened next was something totally unexpected. 

“How did you become famous? And how do you respond to haters online?”

In her free time, Rachel joined TikTok and started posting videos about being a nurse. Her following grew and grew, until she had amassed over a million followers and was casually considered “the TikTok Nurse.” Her videos attracted fans and haters alike, but Rachel maintained her usual carefree attitude towards her newfound fame. “At the end of the day,” she remarks, “I really didn’t care. Like, I’m here to learn, and I’m going to do my thing, and I’m here to have fun, and if you don’t like that, that’s on you.” 

But then one day, Rachel’s boss called her into the office to discuss her social media use. Rachel says she was confused, because she only ever made videos in her free time and had never posted anything from work. Management told her they were simply making her aware that they knew about her Tiktok account – but over time, and after repeated meetings, it became clear that they weren’t going to stay out of her personal life. 

“What was your experience with nursing burnout like?”

That’s when Rachel knew she needed to leave. By this point, she was experiencing pretty serious burnout from working in such an intense environment, providing round-the-clock bedside care to multiple total-care patients. “It was too much,” Rachel reflects, “it was just too much.” When she factored in the added (and very unnecessary)  stress from her supervisors over her social media usage, Rachel realized enough was enough. 

That’s the message that Rachel wants to leave you with: never forget your worth. “I feel like now is the best time ever, in history, to be a nurse – and go wherever you want,” Rachel says. “Because hospitals need you. You’re in demand. You have the power. And you can do anything you want.”