Spread of the ‘Novel Coronavirus’ or COVID-19 led to a pandemic and had an impact on the life of most people around the world. In the USA, most people are staying indoors unless it is essential to step out of any secured location in order to minimize the spread of the virus. However, it is difficult for healthcare providers to stay indoors in order to ensure their security. The healthcare providers are regarded as the frontline warriors in this battle against COVID-19 and nurses have an important role to play in this battle. They often have to put their health at risk despite wearing personal protective equipment in order to look after the ill patients. This latest crisis has pushed the medical facilities to their limits and has changed the way nurses perform their duties. The following points show how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nursing landscape as well as the role of nurses during this pandemic.
How COVID-19 has Changed the Medical Landscape
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly modified the medical landscape. The primary requirements of the nursing profession have always been stamina, adaptability and compassion. However, the duties of all healthcare professionals along with the nurses have increased manifold and have become complicated since the spread of the novel coronavirus. These days, registered nurses are being asked to fulfil the following challenging roles.
Critical Care Nurse
Some patients are becoming critically ill after being infected with COVID-19 virus. Hence, the majority of the nurses are being asked to handle the duties of critical care nurses irrespective of their specialities. This transformation is being regarded as a challenging task, as the nurses from other specialities are being trained in the following aspects of healthcare if they are supposed to treat the patients being infected with the Novel Coronavirus.
- ICU procedures
- Learning in detail about caring for the patients on ventilators or other oxygen-delivery systems
Critical nurses are supposed to perform a variety of tasks and the nurses from other specialities are supposed to learn these special skills before providing care to patients being infected with COVID. Many organizations, such as the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, have eLearning courses to enable the registered nurses to learn life-saving skills.
Medical researchers are not the only professionals who are collecting data regarding the COVID-19 virus. Every healthcare professional is trying to learn about the behaviour of the coronavirus to control it or to treat the health conditions resulting from this virus.
Subsequently, nurses are playing the role of a medical detective. They provide care to the infected patients and can observe as well as learn about their health condition in details. They may watch for the symptoms and patterns of infection. They can help the doctors provide the best care to the patients by sharing their discoveries after providing care to the patients as well as their insights and experience. The medical researchers may even benefit from their practical experience.
Telemedicine has come to focus during the pandemic This technology has remained on the fringe of medicine till date. The nurses are being trained to learn new techniques and to consult with the patients via video-chat, as telemedicine has become the new normal in the post COVID-19 world.
It is important to ensure the safety of all patients and hospital staff at this critical period of time and nurses are tasked to enforce a facility’s Novel Coronavirus policy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus. According to the guidelines of the CDC, nurses are supposed to distribute the face coverings and to keep the treatment areas disinfected. They are also supposed to ask the symptomatic patients, who are stable, to wait outside before being escorted into the medical facility with the proper protection to prevent the spread of infection.
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Implications of COVID-19 to Routine Nurse Life
Respect to Nurses is Concern
Importance of healthcare professionals has significantly increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. However, around 80% of the nurses believe that they receive fair treatment from the employers and around 77% of the nurses believe that the employers care about them. However, most nurses believe they do not receive as much respect as doctors.
- 65% of nurses believe that their employers treat doctors and nurses with different levels of respect.
- 63% of the nurses believe that doctors do not have as much respect for the nurses as other doctors.
- 75% of nurses feel that the patients have different levels of respect for nurses and doctors.
Nurses’ Life Became More Balanced in Pandemic
In the USA, 22% of the nurses have noticed an improvement in their work-life balance since the pandemic.
- 58% of the nurses believe that their professional skills have improved
- 58% of the nurses believe that they have become a better member of the nursing team
- 55% of the nurses feel that they have become a better human being
- 39% of the nurses feel that their relationship has improved with their significant others
- 38% of the nurses feel that they have become a better friend
- 27% of the nurses feel that they have become a better parent
Leadership Roles for Nurses
Since COVID-19 pandemic, around three out of four nurses believe that other staffs of a healthcare facility regard them as a leader since they have taken upon more leadership responsibilities. For example, around 61% of the nurses believe that their colleagues pay more value to their opinions since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic. However, not all nurses feel the same way.
- 55% of nurses believe that their opinions are not being valued properly.
- 84% of the nurses wish that they had a stronger leadership role.
Change in Job Roles with Same Career Options
Many nurses have reported an increase in working hours since the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is not the only change noticed by the nurses, as they have noticed changes in the following aspects of their profession.
- Responsibilities or job duties
- Type of patients evaluated or treated
- Work environment
- Hourly wage or salary
Most nurses have noticed a change in their duties and responsibilities since the pandemic. However, this has not provided the nurses with better nursing career options
according to some of them and one out of four nurses believes that he/she has fewer career options than before. On the other hand, 20% of nurses believe they have more career options than before the start of the pandemic.
Being a Nurse in COVID-19 is the Most Challenging
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the limits of all healthcare professionals and nurses are no exception. They have to work harder for a longer period of time. This has a negative impact on the mental health of more than half of the nurses. However, around 1/3rd
of the nurses believe that they have been able to maintain their mental health despite this pandemic.
Around 3 out of 4 nurses feel that working during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most challenging period of their career and around half of the nurses wanted to quit the job due to unbearable work pressure. On the other hand, around 90% of the nurses like to perform their duties and they feel satisfied due to being able to provide care to the patients. The fear of infection or exhaustion could not lower their nursing spirit, as they believe that their responsibilities have increased, and their assistance has become more important than ever before.