As the pandemic unfolded, the whole world, including all the professions, industries, and sectors, faced its wreath. One sector that was particularly impacted was the healthcare sector and, with it, the nursing profession.
With so many cases of infection surfacing each day, nurses found themselves working long hours and requiring essential personal protective equipment. Simultaneously, the evolving guidance about dealing with pandemic-hit patients and the emotional toll was more than they ever imagined.
Simultaneously, it also highlighted the fractures in the healthcare system. The healthcare infrastructure response to this crisis was short of expectations from the PPE shortage to contact tracing problems.
With its technological innovation and breakthroughs in the medical field, the world thought itself ready to deal with any situation, but the pandemic told us otherwise. While the importance of a sound infrastructure of healthcare is undeniable in any case, the pandemic dictated the need was urgent.
In the healthcare system, nurse practitioners are an essential element and act as front-line workers. But pandemic manifested that the expertise and skills were not enough to deal with critical patients. Nursing professions require a constant skill boost allowing them to prepare for such conditions. Thus, there is no doubt that, like all other professions and working environments, the pandemic has impacted the nursing profession.
How has the pandemic impacted the nursing profession?
Demand for upskilling
Patient care during the pandemic dictated that nurse practitioners need to upscale their skills with new courses and certifications. They need preparation to play a more active part than their traditional nursing roles. Responding to this concern, institutions have started providing master-level online courses to prepare them to serve as mid-level practitioners.
Thus, following the pandemic, there is an increase in the enrollment rate of CCNE accredited online MSN programs aiming to prepare nurses with the freedom to act independently. With the number of patients increasing manifolds, nurses need to equip themselves with new training and education regarding the pandemic.
Virtual classes are the new norm
With the pandemic on the rise and no end in sight, the classroom’s instructional model is rapidly transitioning into an online mode. At the same time, the clinical rotation sites are getting substituted by clinical simulation. The effectiveness of these simulations might be a matter to question. However, it seems that virtual classes are becoming a new norm, and it is here to stay even after the pandemic.
One positive ray of hope is the introduction of online master’s programs by notable institutions. Thus, there might be fewer issues of quality with these virtual classes.
Mainstreaming the nursing profession
While the world has witnessed the skill shortage and ambiguity caused by the pandemic, the nursing profession has become mainstream. Multiple pictures about nurses dealing with the horrors of increased death toll to their injury-strewn faces due to the constant use of masks highlight its significance.
The public is in awe of the selflessness of this profession, with nurses around the globe risking their lives treating patients. At the same time, the public is aware of how these professional nurses work for long hours and struggle with a shortage of resources. Thus, getting recognized and revered for what this profession does for humanity is one positive impact of the pandemic
Attitudinal changes towards the nursing profession
According to a survey conducted by American Nurses Association and Johnson & Johnson, nurses found progress in the profession. According to the survey nursing working with COVID-19 patients are open to working in interprofessional teams.
50% of the nurses who worked for half their time with COVID-19 patients show satisfaction with professional advancement opportunities. The number shows a positive attitude among the nurses who spend more than half of their time with pandemic-stricken patients than those who did not. These results also highlight positive expectations and attitudes towards this profession as a whole.
Mass trauma among world nurses
During the pandemic, because of strict rules of isolation, often nurses are the only ones helping the patient deal with the loss. The nurses provide emotional support to patients and their families but are suffering equally throughout the process. Additionally, with so many deaths of healthcare professionals, including nurses, the psychological stress is unbearable.
With the long-term and short-term consequences of this stress, the pandemic can impact the nursing profession fatally. Additionally, according to American Nurses Association, by 2022, more than 500,000 experienced nurses will retire. Unless the government takes critical steps at a higher level, the profession risks losing its front-line forces. Governments around the world have to take quick steps to prevent this potential mass exodus.
A newfound rise in telehealth services
Hospitals became a potential source of transmitting diseases. Thus, the use of telehealth services has witnessed a rise in their demand. In such a regard, the nursing profession has played a vital role in responding to these queries and expanding the healthcare system’s much-needed fabric. In the future, in the post-pandemic world, the registered nurses can give a boost to telehealth services. Thus, there is potential to improve the healthcare system ranging from primary health for essential healthcare to virtual hospitals for extensive care.
With the pandemic affecting everything around the world, the nursing profession is going through drastic changes. The pandemic has made it clear that the healthcare system worldwide has many fractures and lacks a systematic approach to a pandemic level health crisis.
The nursing profession gave enough support to the system during the pandemic. However, like all other professions, it has got impacted in many ways. From skill shortages, professional nursing retiring shortly, and many nurses leaving the domain in the face of stress, the challenges require immediate attention.
There is a need for immediate government action to mitigate the severe impact of the pandemic on the nursing profession. At the same time, engaging the nursing leadership and community goes without saying.