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Of: Astrid Kistner

Vanessa, 31, attends to a patient in her infirmary.
Dream job as a nurse: Vanessa, 31, loves her job, even if the daily workload pushes her to the limits of her resilience. © ZDF/Christl Pullman

Little money, even less recognition: Germany is short of 50,000 nurses. The ZDF report from the series “37 Grad” shows why the profession is a dream job for some despite constant stress.

Vanessa has found her dream job: Nurse. The 31-year-old even gave up her media studies over this. But even though she loves what she does, she pushes her limits every day. At the Braunschweig Municipal Clinic, she runs “out of breath at every turn”. The ZDF report of the same name from the series “37 degrees” is not a documentary that once again denounces the shortage of nurses, but accompanies people who have not lost their idealism despite stress today at 22:15 constant and psychological tension.

And that’s perhaps the biggest accomplishment: staying friendly, open, and engaged, even if recognition for the work is often lacking. “I started my apprenticeship totally motivated,” Vanessa recalls in the film. “And then I was pretty disappointed to feel like everyone I met was advising against this job.”

More than 50,000 nurses are currently missing in Germany, and by 2030 there will be more than 60,000. To improve the working conditions and the reputation of her profession, Vanessa has created an Instagram account. “We want to be recognized rather than pitied,” she says.

Pediatric intensive care nurse Michael Wappler from the German Heart Center in Berlin is also determined to keep employees motivated in their work. He has designed an induction model that is tailored to new colleagues on an individual basis. And his success proves him right: the dropout rate in his department is less than four percent. “Our work is extremely demanding,” he explains in the ZDF documentary. Working an eight-hour shift, often without being able to sit properly, is part of it. And then there’s the emotional toll: “We don’t just care for babies with heart defects, we also support parents who are constantly worried about their children’s lives.”

Michael Wappler does a lot to meet this challenge every day, even after 23 years on the job. He plays sports and keeps fit, he is always looking for the exchange with his peers and the feeling of being positively challenged. His energy is contagious, says his colleague Mandy, who is in her final days of training. What’s good about your job? “When I go home, I always feel like I’ve done something really good.”

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