20 Ways Nurses Are Helping the World Through a Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic changed life as we know it. And as case numbers climbed and variants emerged, hospitals throughout the U.S. and abroad neared—and often surpassed—capacity. Registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners have answered the call for help in a big way. Without these essential workers who put their lives on the line day in and day out, the already grim reality of the COVID-19 pandemic would likely be much, much worse. Their efforts have extended far beyond providing routine patient care, as nurses are taking on additional responsibilities when the world needs them the most.
20 Ways Nurses Are Helping the World Through a Pandemic
1. Coming out of retirement.
Many retired nurses are answering the call to action during the COVID-19 crisis, serving on the front lines once again
2. Taking travel nursing positions.
The coronavirus pandemic is affecting various industries, populations, and cities disproportionately. To provide vital care to communities hit the hardest, many practitioners are taking travel nursing positions—working at different hospitals for a few months at a time before moving on to the next place in need of support.
3. Working longer hours/more shifts.
In a 2021 update, the International Council of Nurses announced that national nursing associations have consistently received reports of nurses increasing working hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.1
4. Spreading knowledge and awareness.
In addition to on-site duties, healthcare professionals far and wide—including RNs and nurse practitioners—are sharing knowledge and updates on the COVID-19 crisis as appropriate to help combat the spread of misinformation and the virus itself.
5. Providing emotional support.
Not only are nurses providing medical care and treatment, but they also are extending emotional support to patients and families as the pandemic continues. In some cases, this has included serving as messengers for hospitalized patients who could not see family members due to safety protocols.
6. Conducting home visits.
For immunocompromised and/or housebound individuals, COVID-19 poses a particularly dangerous threat. In these instances, many nurses and physicians conduct at-home visits to provide quality care and ensure the safety of these patients.
7. Leading public health initiatives/operations.
Beyond sharing key insights on COVID-19, some nurse practitioners and RNs are leading public health initiatives and operations in their local communities, including mobile screening and testing services.
8. Promoting CDC guidance.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to update its COVID-19 guidelines, nurses are working to stay abreast of the latest updates and ensure the public remains aware of evolving safety protocols.
9. Emphasizing the importance of mental health.
In addition to physical and emotional well-being, nurses are making sure to emphasize the importance of addressing the effects of COVID-19 on mental health—for patients and practitioners alike.
10. Instituting self-isolation.
Because nurses work directly with patients, the pandemic inevitably is putting them at greater risk of contracting coronavirus. For this reason, many practitioners—particularly those working with COVID-19 patients and in critical care units—have isolated from friends and family for months on end to keep everyone as safe as possible.
11. Assisting in decontamination.
Sanitation is a top priority for hospitals and clinics. The pandemic made decontamination a critical process, requiring an all-hands-on-deck approach. Nurses are assisting in the cleaning and disinfecting of facilities more now than ever before.
12. Combating vaccine hesitancy.
As long as vaccines have existed, so has vaccine hesitancy. Armed with industry knowledge, RNs and nurse practitioners are helping to combat this hesitancy by addressing concerns and documenting their own vaccination experiences.
13. Maintaining PPE supplies.
Acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) was a major challenge early in the pandemic, even for nurses who were directly treating patients with coronavirus. In fact, a study by the American Nurses Association found that six months into the pandemic, 58% of nurses reused masks for five days or more in order to maintain the supply of PPE as hospitals experienced shortages.2
14. Handling vaccine storage.
In addition to promoting COVID-19 vaccination to patients and the public, nurses often are responsible for meeting handling and storage requirements, including keeping vaccines at the proper temperature and monitoring expiration dates.
15. Collaborating with other medical professionals.
Working with colleagues—whether doctors, specialists, or administrators—is crucial to the success of any healthcare facility. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, interprofessional collaboration has been a primary focus for nurses in order to provide the most well-informed, patient-centered care possible amid an ongoing global health crisis.
16. Participating in telehealth services.
For individuals in need of routine, noninvasive care—such as a yearly checkup—appointments can be conducted via telehealth. In addition to in-person treatment, nurses all over the world help meet the growing demand for virtual screenings by participating in telehealth services at their facility.
17. Advocating for enhanced patient care.
In the face of a global pandemic, many issues are being brought to light. From disparities in healthcare access to unethical services and practices, nurses continue to advocate on behalf of patients to ensure high-quality care is obtainable for all.
18. Practicing self-care.
Nurses can only be at the top of their game when they take good care of themselves. Engaging in self-care practices—like meditating, exercising, and joining a support group—during the pandemic has enabled RNs and nurse practitioners to continue providing the best patient care possible.
19. Providing leadership and training.
Some nurses had just entered the field when COVID-19 hit, while others have joined the ranks as the pandemic has continued. Seasoned RNs and nurse practitioners help lead the way for less experienced professionals, providing on-site training and guidance despite the chaos caused by an ongoing global health crisis.
20. Keeping hope.
One of the best ways nurses are helping the world through the pandemic is by simply remaining hopeful. As new variants trigger increased infections, nurses are working to maintain a positive outlook and build toward a healthier, happier future.
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3Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) IPEDS database. Based on the most recent year of completions survey data available, using CIP code family 51.38 “Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research, and Clinical Nursing” for Master’s degrees (Award level 7). Available at https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/use-the-data. (Retrieved January 2021; may consist of or include provisional release data.)
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