Nurses are the backbone of any healthcare facility, be it a hospital, a dental clinic, or a rehabilitation facility. Nursing professionals work tirelessly and selflessly with agonizingly exhausting schedules that leave little time and energy for self-care.
The contributions of nurses in pandemics and crises go back to the olden days of Florence Nightingale – the founder of nursing. Nurses have always crowded the ranks of frontline healthcare professionals, saving lives in war zones, hospital emergencies, and elsewhere. These hardworking professionals dedicate their lives to patient care and recovery, fighting on the frontlines of pandemics and medical emergencies.
The coronavirus pandemic gave birth to an unprecedented healthcare crisis and a financially crippling economic lockdown. With healthcare industries overwhelmed worldwide, nurses took to the forefront to handle and manage the crises with care and compassion. Nurses took up multiple roles and responsibilities to win the fight against the coronavirus and its life-threatening symptoms.
Let’s take a closer look at the roles played by nurses during the pandemic.
1. Juggling Multiple Roles
Nursing leaders had to take up multiple roles alongside their nursing duties. They had to transform into caregivers, counselors, and educators to build awareness and help their patients cope. Testing positive for the coronavirus meant patients could no longer interact or live with their families and loved ones.
This mandatory social distancing intensified the strain on the healthcare system as families could no longer look after their patients. Naturally, the responsibilities of nurses increased tenfold as they assumed the roles of primary caregivers for patients struggling to recover. The demand for nurses with advanced specializations grew exponentially, given the shortages of skilled physicians and medical experts.
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2. Fighting on the Frontlines
How many nurses and healthcare professionals do you know who tested positive for COVID-19 because they refused to leave work? Hundreds and thousands of nurses and medical providers contracted the virus because of their exposure to coronavirus patients. These professionals stubbornly refused to sit in the comfort of their homes and fought the pandemic from the frontlines.
Nurses served as the premier line of defense, protecting their communities from the novel virus and its symptoms. They handled life-threatening emergencies in the ER and nurtured patients to recovery with care and compassion. These professionals served the world silently and selflessly, utterly oblivious to the risks to their wellbeing.
The rapid shift to e-health and electronic processes came with its complex challenges and transitioning issues. Nurses struggled to manage the pressure created by the pandemic and the need to build electronic alternatives for in-person treatments.
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3. Patient Care & Treatment Quality
Nursing leaders were at the forefront of regulating patient care and treatment quality throughout the pandemic. Nurses spend the most time in close contact with patients, particularly throughout the healthcare crisis. Coronavirus patients struggle with severe respiratory complications and acute breathing concerns.
These patients required close monitoring and examination to save their lives and provide them the necessary support. Nurses had little choice but to risk their safety to come in close contact with infected patients. They had to wear grossly uncomfortable apparel and thick fabrics to avoid exposure, creating unprecedented discomfort.
Nurses continued to do their part in regulating patient care and quality despite the discomforts of the recent regulations. They fought and struggled against the virus against all odds, helping patients with little regard for their wellbeing. Nurses helped patients recover and manage their symptoms and restore their energies after combatting the virus.
4. Mental Health Support & Counseling
For those of us who haven’t contracted the virus, understanding the emotions of a coronavirus patient is a formidable challenge. Imagine yourself separated from your family and loved ones, alone on a hospital bed with severe respiratory complaints. The loneliness and separation anxiety is enough to make a person feel helpless and spiral into depression.
The pandemic resulted in rising mental health challenges, as millions in lockdown struggled with depression and anxiety. Patients sitting alone in gloomy hospital rooms struggled against the fear of death and the depression accompanying sickness. Faced with such odds, nurses had to take up counselors’ roles to instill positivity in their patients.
Nurses had to deal with chronic illnesses and mental health issues to help put their patients on the road to recovery. They provided patients the companionship and contact they craved, lightening up their mood with their constant presence. Patients had little support aside from the nurses who would check their vital signs and symptoms. And nurses fulfilled this responsibility with inspiring compassion and sheer kindness.
5. Spreading Awareness
The pandemic was trailed by an ocean of misinformation, fallacies, conspiracy theories, and damaging lies. Communities worldwide were perplexed by disturbing theories about vaccines, COVID-19 medications, and treatments. As a result, people were hesitant to get tested, share their diagnosis, or seek treatment in fear of separation and social stigmas.
Nurses played a pivotal role in raising awareness to combat the misinformation that deterred people from seeking treatment. In addition, they fought the social stigmas around sharing the diagnosis and the fear of distancing people who contracted the virus. They also raised awareness around vaccines, encouraging people to prioritize their wellbeing by eliminating their risk. Nursing leaders played a crucial role in raising community awareness and dispelling damaging myths about the pandemic.
The world owes an enormous debt to nursing professionals who put their lives at risk to save millions from the life-threatening virus. These healthcare providers served tirelessly and selflessly, prioritizing their patients above their wellbeing. The World Health Organization (WHO) dubbed 2020 as the Year of the Nurse, and we couldn’t agree more. Nurses deserve much more grandeur, prestige, and recognition for their services in combatting the pandemic. Without dedicated and determined nurses, the fight against the novel virus would have proven impossible