COVID-19 was first discovered in China at the end of December 2019. By 2020, this deadly virus had spread to the U.S. and other countries around the world. Not since the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic has a virus presented a threat quite like the one we’re facing today.
In March 2020, countries all around the world went into lockdown. Their main focus was to reduce the number of deaths and flatten the curve. During this time, nurses took to social media to plead with members of the general public to stay at home and reduce the spread of the disease so that hospitals could cope and weren’t overwhelmed by the sheer number of patients with the condition.
But, unfortunately thousands of people still lost their lives during this time. In fact, the virus took the lives of over 600 healthcare professionals in the U.S. during lockdown alone. Over 100 of those professionals were nurses who were caring for COVID-19 positive patients.
At the same time, nurses who weren’t working with these patients were having their hours cut or even losing their jobs altogether. Nurses have been hit hard financially by the pandemic, but they’ve also been hit emotionally and personally.
Thanks to our nurses and other medical professionals, we will manage to overcome COVID-19. But this experience has taught us a lot and we can use this information to change the nursing profession for the better. Here are some of the ways the COVID-19 pandemic could change the future of nursing for the better:
1. Nurses Will Find New Roles Outside of the Hospital Setting
Before the pandemic, the majority of nurses worked in hospital settings. However, over the last few months, we’ve seen a huge change in this. Nurses are now choosing to take up non-hospital nursing roles such as medical writing, aesthetics nursing, home health care, insurance case manager RN, legal nurse consultant or are even opening their own nurse-run business. The role of a nurse is constantly changing and evolving and we can expect this to continue in the future.
2. Nurses are More Motivated than Ever
Bedside nursing has never been harder than it is now. Over the past few months, nurses have witnessed the devastating effect the virus has had on others. This has inspired many of them to improve their skills so that they can work with patients who are extremely unwell. A global pandemic can make us all re-evaluate our lives, and nurses are no exception to this.
Although we said above that thousands of nurses have chosen to leave the hospital setting and find new non-hospital nursing roles, this isn’t the case for everyone. In fact, research has shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many nurses being re-inspired and re-motivated to care for people at the bedside.
3. More Nurses Than Ever are Choosing to Advance Their Education
There has been a considerable increase in the number of nurses choosing to advance their education and specialize in certain areas of medicine since the pandemic first began. Gaining extra qualifications or specializing in a specific area not only benefits the patients, but it can also benefit the individual too. Nurses who choose to further their education are likely to have better career opportunities and may feel like they can care for their patients better too.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given lots of nurses the push they need to continue to advance their career. And, these nurses will be in high-demand over the next few years as we learn to live with the virus.
4. The Public is Now Aware of the Lack of Safety in Nursing
We’ve all heard the news stories about how nurses are being expected to work ridiculously long hours in unsafe conditions. Well, unfortunately these stories are true. Nurses all around the country have been asked during the pandemic to work without the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) to keep themselves safe.
But nurses don’t only work in unsafe situations when there’s a pandemic. They’re often expected to work with unsafe staffing numbers, potentially violent patients and other occupational hazards that come with the job. Nurses have been put at risk for many years.
Recently we’ve seen nurses protesting and holding press conferences to bring light to this important and serious issue. Now that this issue is out in the open for all to see, we expect to see changes made.
While it shouldn’t take a pandemic for nurses’ personal safety and demands to be listened to, the public is now aware of the situation. Hopefully, this will lead to a safer future for nurses.
5. The Nursing Profession is Constantly Learning
Over the last few months, nurses have been faced with some enormous challenges. Nurses have had to come up with new safety procedures, rules, and ideas in order to try and slow the spread of the disease.
One example of this is when nurses moved IV drips to the doorways of COVID-19 positive patients so that they didn’t have to walk into the room to give them their medication. This helped to prevent the spread of the disease.
Another example we can think of is how nurses cleverly found a way to provide compassionate care to patients who were suffering with the virus. As relatives were unable to visit hospitalized patients, nurses set up video calls or arranged telephone calls instead. This meant the patients were able to talk to their loved ones even if they couldn’t be with them. It also meant that relatives could be with a patient in their final hours.
Not only are nurses resourceful, but they’ve also learnt a lot from past events. Click here to learn about some of the significant events in nursing history and see for yourself how this amazing career has evolved over time.
We owe a great deal of thanks to all the nurses and other healthcare professionals who’ve worked tirelessly during the pandemic. Although COVID-19 cases are still rising in the US, nurses continue to work hard to keep us safe and take care of our loved ones. Not only that, but at the same time they’re also fighting for protection and demanding betterment for their profession and the care of their patients. While this pandemic has had a lot of negative impacts on the world, let’s hope that we can learn from it and that it can help to change the nursing profession for the better.