“#‘Too hot’ coronavirus nurse wins modeling contract — but wants to be doctor”
Last month, a Russian hospital nurse in Tula caused a global media stir (and a quiver among her male patients) when she arrived to her shift wearing underwear beneath her transparent personal protective equipment — and nothing more.
We now know the identity of the nearly nude nurse in question: Nadezhda Zhukova. She explained to Tula Regional Clinical Hospital officials that it was “too hot” to wear clothing under the head-to-toe vinyl suit, which safeguarded her from contracting and spreading the coronavirus among patients.
Believe it or not, there were “no complaints” in the men-only wing where she works, according to local reports. However, hospital administrators vowed to discipline Zhukova for her “non-compliance with the requirements for medical clothing.”
Since her cheeky stunt, Zhukova has become something of an icon for liberated nurses everywhere. That’s why Zasport, a Russian sportswear brand worn by the country’s Olympic athletes, tapped the nurse for an ad campaign tied to Russia’s health-worker day, celebrated annually on June 21.
In an interview with the brand published on the Zasport website, Zhukova claims that despite her new modeling gig, she had always hoped to work in health care.
“Ever since I was little, I have wanted to become a doctor. I treated my dolls, loved to play doctors and nurses,” said the 23-year-old model, who started as a scrub nurse in 2018 after graduating with a nursing degree — although she intends on going back to school to earn her doctorate.
“I can’t still decide though what to choose — pediatrics or anesthesiology and resuscitation,” she said.
The COVID-19 outbreak forced her to transfer to the infectious disease hospital in the Tula region network and work as a desk nurse.
“Many people ask me if I am afraid to get coronavirus,” said Zhukova, whose day involves patient injections, drug distribution, temperature and blood pressure readings, and other supportive tasks. “I have no fear now. I’m just doing my job.”
Addressing her sudden infamy, she confessed, “I still feel uncomfortable to talk about it … it’s still a mystery to me how could this information spread so fast.”
Zhukova learned of her viral fame on the same day the photo was taken, and was quickly inundated with solicitations from the media.
“Of course I recognized myself [from unnamed reports] and closed all of my accounts in social networks, but I did not clear cache in VKontakte [Russian social media channel] so some photos … leaked into the press,” she said.
“I didn’t answer the calls from unknown phone numbers. I didn’t read the news … The journalists called my friends, tried to find out some information about me,” she explained.
Zhukova claims one individual was so determined to find her that they published her photo on social media alongside calls to find the “missing girl.”
“It was awful,” she said.
She told readers that the hospital staff has been supportive of her, and she again defended her scantily clad scrubs.
“They know only too well how it is hot to work in protective equipment in summer. It’s like you pass a few hours in sauna, it’s getting hard to breathe and to move,” said Zhukova
“By the way, that day when the photo was taken, I didn’t wear a bikini — I wore a sports top and shorts,” she added.
Zasport’s lead designer Anastasia Zadorina made her own statement: “Nadezhda became one of the symbols of ‘coronavirus era’ where we are living now. I followed the story of the Russian nurse who got worldwide fame and I think that she deserves respect and support as well as all the doctors. She is young, beautiful and very brave and she makes a major contribution to the struggle fight against COVID-19.”
Zadorina added that her company is also planning to “lend support [against coronavirus] to Tula Regional Clinical Hospital where Nadezhda works,” through their charity program Za Help.
Zhukova said she was looking forward to a continued partnership with Zasport, which she plans to accomplish alongside her hospital work.
She also added a very important reminder as the world works to flatten the pandemic’s curve.
“Do not ease off,” she urged. “Wear protective masks, use antiseptics. And if you show signs of the indisposition, do not delay, consult a doctor.”
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