The world didn’t expect that after 2019, nothing would ever be the same. The pandemic brought a worldwide wave of financial, health, and emotional destruction that many are still recovering from. It not only showed our vulnerability but also exposed the gaps in our healthcare systems. Amidst the panic, healthcare workers emerged as the true heroes in times of crisis, and it showed how dependent we are on their skills.
Even with an overwhelmed public health response, nurses were one of the frontline health workers who took the full force of the pandemic both personally and professionally. The pandemic has significantly highlighted the crucial role nurses play in the care ecosystem. Since the year 2020 has been declared the “Year of the Nurses,” the upcoming years bring new challenges and expectations for the nursing profession. Here’s how the role of nursing has changed and how it can push forward:
- Expansion in the Nursing Role
Nursing has grown from its traditional hospital role into various nurse-led programs during the pandemic. COVID-19 badly affects the community. People are suffering because of social dilemmas, and many families need infant care. Public health nurses and nurse-midwives have played a staunch role in providing integrated care.
The shortage of nurses and a high number of healthcare workers being exposed to the virus has led the nurses to ease into several roles. Now, they are not only someone who looks after a patient in the hospital, but nurses have emerged as supportive figures in the community who can help educate people about the virus. In addition, nurses have been a reliable source for providing evidence-based information and spreading awareness about preventive measures to the masses.
However, the shortage of qualified nurses created a gap in the healthcare system. To fill this gap is only possible by strategic and adequate investment in nursing education. Today, many nurses are willing to elevate their careers with the help of further education. Online education allows them to go for further education along with their regular duties. In addition, aspirants can opt for CCNE accredited online MSN programs, which help them continue their practice and provide valuable healthcare improvements.
- A Surge in Telehealth Services
The pandemic forced people of all generations to adapt to working with a digital presence. Every industry had to shift to remote working and virtual meetings to survive the restrictions. The healthcare industry, specifically nurse practitioners, was no exception to this transition as well. They suddenly had to improvise their role by catching up to all the latest communication platforms and technologies.
Telehealth is defined as delivering and facilitating health-related services, including medical care, patient education, health information services, and self-care via digital communication technologies. The pandemic has overthrown any remaining resistance against the mainstreaming of telehealth services. Surprisingly, the role of nurses in facilitating long-distance healthcare is commendable.
- Mitigating the Spread of Infectious Diseases
Stopping the spread of infectious diseases was and still is the utmost priority of the world. Until vaccinations have been administered to most of the population, the priority is to control the spread. Nurses play a vital role in managing the current health crisis and focusing all their efforts on slowing the spread of the disease. Furthermore, nurses comparatively have a better relationship with patients and their families. Therefore, they are better equipped at helping the public understand the risk of spreading the virus through possible negligence.
Nurses have been incredible at crowd control in the current pandemic, especially in educating people on protecting themselves. Even with the lack of PPE, limited resources, and shortened staff, nurses have taken it upon themselves to keep teaching people about getting used to the new routine. As a result, nurses have established themselves at the center of patient care, from tackling the unpredictable conditions of the patients to protecting themselves against the virus and physical exhaustion.
The nurses must have prior knowledge about infectious diseases, their symptoms, preventions, and modes of transmission. Therefore, the healthcare industry should seriously consider investing in pre-registration nursing programs that address the understanding of the competencies required to prevent the spread of disease during a pandemic. Thus, it will further elevate the nursing contribution during pandemics.
The COVID-19 pandemic slit opens the gaps and shortcomings in our current healthcare system. During the crisis, nurses have proved to be a strong support system for vulnerable patients and their families.
Their role has evolved from simply being an aid in the hospital to a strong professional putting their lives on the line to fight the pandemic. They have facilitated the telehealth services to the point where people don’t feel defeated by the system due to restrictions.
Their incredible disease management capabilities allowed them to educate communities regarding preventive measures, address the knowledge gap, and play various roles to maintain the healthcare system.
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