The COVID-19 pandemic opened up nursing to the public. For the first time, we got to see them at work. They were stressed, overworked, and often understaffed. In many hospitals across America, nurses had to reuse personal protective equipment, and when that didn’t work anymore, they were forced to improvise.
Despite all this, nurses were brilliant, and they were also relentless. They cared for their patients and did whatever they could to save lives. They stayed to the end and saw the country through a tough time.
However, the pandemic caught the healthcare industry flat-footed, and nurses were no exception. Staffing was the biggest challenge that they faced. Surged numbers of patients and not enough nurses to attend to them. The result was an exhausted workforce.
Shortage of PPE was another serious issue that affected practitioners. Some would end up taking risks that would cost them their lives. There was a clear break in the supply chain for this vital equipment, and although much was done to correct the problem, the interventions often came too late.
These challenges taught the healthcare industry important lessons and highlighted opportunities for change.
Today’s nursing student has a lot to learn from the pandemic. Nursing schools like the University of Indianapolis have incorporated into their courses the lessons learned from the COVID pandemic for nursing and how the profession can be better prepared for emergencies in the future.
Students learn health policy and advocacy. After their course, they are equipped to create guidelines to help tackle problems like those experienced during the pandemic.
You do not have to wait to enroll in a nursing course to familiarize yourself with the lessons learned by nurses during the pandemic and the opportunities for change.
Lessons learned during the pandemic
Communication is key
Many hospitals reviewed their communication policies during and after the pandemic. They changed the way information is disseminated throughout the institution. Communication manuals were rewritten to include nurses in different departments and levels of management.
Some institutions have also retrained nurses on communication during a crisis so that the next time there is an emergency, information can flow in the right direction to the right people.
During the pandemic, there was a lot of information flying around, much of it unsubstantiated, and it had the potential to distract or mislead nurses. Hospitals and other institutions should have a central source of information so that all nurses are on the same page.
Worry only about what you can change.
During the pandemic, especially at the beginning, much time was spent worrying about things nurses did not have control over. For example, they could not do anything about the rate at which the pandemic was spreading or what demographics were most vulnerable.
Rather than worry about these things, nurses should have focused on what they could control, like assisting doctors, helping patients with medication, caring for the critically ill, and ensuring the hospital environment was safe.
Evidence is key
Many nurse leaders were frustrated with management and felt that they didn’t get support for important issues. What can be learned from this is that evidence is necessary.
If, for example, a nurse notices that infections are higher in one part of the hospital than in other departments, rather than try to convince management by just talking to them, it is helpful to provide evidence. It is fact-based and hard to ignore.
Within every healthcare institution, nurses must be represented in management. They form the bulk of healthcare providers in America but, in some cases, are unrepresented.
It isn’t enough to assume that management is doing something when things go wrong. Nurses must have a representative in the upper levels to ensure their interests are taken care of.
Training is key
For nurses to cope when pandemics occur, they must be properly trained. Not only do they need to have a degree in nursing, but they must also strive to attend seminars, conferences, and short courses to keep themselves up to date on the latest in the industry.
The nursing profession is facing a shortage in some parts of America because so many quit after the pandemic. They were burned out and felt they couldn’t go on.
This was an important lesson for the profession. Nurses must strive to care for their physical and mental health to prevent burnout during moments of crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic was rich in lessons for the nursing profession. Whether you are a junior or senior nurse, these are lessons worth paying attention to. They will teach you how to handle yourself the