Since the Spanish Flu in 1918, there has been no virus quite like the current pandemic. States across the country were dropped into lockdown while health organizations begged people to stay at home to stop the virus from spreading.
The virus has, to date, taken the lives of over 100 nurses that were on the front lines caring for COVID-19 patients, while other nurses who worked on other wards were furloughed to maintain cash flow. Yet, despite the huge demand for nurses over the past year, even healthcare professionals have been hit by the financial strain the pandemic has created.
However, as we begin to flatten the curve, we can look forward to the post-COVID world. A lot has been learned over the past year, and in this post, we’re going to discuss how these learnings will change nursing forever.
Nurse safety will become a priority
During the pandemic, we’ve seen horror stories of the unsafe conditions and lack of PPE available to the nursing workforce.
However, nurses have been working around occupational hazards for years; it’s nothing new. It’s just the past year has propelled the issue into the public spotlight. Had healthcare organizations already been equipped with PPE, they may have been slightly more prepared for the virus. However, without the foundations already in place, nurses struggled to find safe ways to work.
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Now that the public is aware of the issues, they can support nurses with their protests and fight for safer work environments. Hopefully, this will lead to nurse safety becoming a bigger priority in the future.
Some nurses are considering practices away from bedside care
While the typical role of a nurse is seen to be by the bedside of vulnerable patients, there are a huge number of professions that offer new challenges.
Nurses who worked on the frontlines during the pandemic have seen the impact their work can have. However, they’ve also put their own lives at risk and have seen their friends or work colleagues suffer. All of this has had a huge emotional strain on the workforce, and as such, a lot of nurses are looking for new roles in different departments. There’s nothing quite like a crisis to propel you into reaching for your goals. Many nurses who always had the intention to specialize after graduating find themselves falling into nursing roles that don’t quite fit their original plans. However, in the post-pandemic world, we’ll likely see that nurses will reflect on their initial intentions and choose to pursue specialisms within the field.
Nurses who were furloughed or had their hours reduced may have used the pandemic as a push to look at their future prospects in non-hospital nursing roles, too. Whether it’s home healthcare, legal nurse consultancy, or medical writing, there are a huge number of less hands-on nursing roles to choose from.
While others feel reinvigorated in their current roles
Although there seems to be a number of nurses taking on roles away from the bedside, some have found that being on the front lines is much more their calling. Watching how the pandemic has left so many people suffering, nurses and health specialists have been inspired to take on new studying to brush up their skills and get back to the bedside.
In the post-pandemic world, we’ll see a significant shift and switch-ups in the people currently taking on different roles within their organization.
This urge to care for others will hopefully also trickle down into the public, with new students looking to qualify as registered nurses and bridge the current gaps in the workforce. COVID-19 has led a lot of people to reconsider their careers and prioritize, which will hopefully have a positive impact on the number of people looking to retrain or choose nursing as a new, secondary career.
Distanced online learning will become common practice
There were already a huge number of nursing courses available online. However, with the closure of campuses, the pandemic pushed more students into the world of e-Learning. After a year of studying at home, colleges and other educational establishments have taken on the challenge and adapted accordingly and now offer an accelerated BSN nursing program online.
This means more students can study the topic as and when works for them – hopefully meaning there will be more students open to the idea of a career in nursing.
Telemedicine will become more advanced
Telemedicine is where healthcare is provided via video conference. The technology has made support and health advice more accessible for those most vulnerable during the pandemic and will continue to be a valuable asset for health organizations.
Both physicians and nurse practitioners can provide diagnosis and medication recommendations via video call, meaning those in more rural areas have quicker access to treatment.
Unfortunately, during the pandemic, a huge number of rural clinics closed their doors, making it even more difficult for those out of the city to schedule an appointment. With telemedicine, healthcare staff from across the country can connect with patients further afield.
More nurse practitioners will have full practice authority
There is a huge number of states that now offer nurse practitioners full practice authority without the need for a supervising physician.
With the shortage of practices in rural areas, it now makes more sense than ever for more states to allow FPA so that there is more opportunity to reach patients near and far. Hopefully, the post-pandemic world will finally be the last push for the remaining states.
Nurses will finally get the credit they deserve
Very few nurses go into the career for positive attention, but everyone enjoys a little appreciation.
Nurses are an integral part of the healthcare industry, providing care and support to society’s most vulnerable. Despite this, nurses very often go unappreciated both by their workplace and the general public.
However, the past year will certainly change this. More people will have been impacted by the work nurses so selflessly do and are now showing their appreciation more than ever.