IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON NURSING PROFESSION – THE GOOD & THE BAD

In January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Soon after, in March 2020, it was acknowledged as a global pandemic. The majority of the countries closed borders and barred traveling to curb the spread of the virus. Inside borderlines, states announced nationwide lockdowns, and social distancing became the new normal. Work from home, virtual learning, and video conferencing became practical options. Every aspect of human life took a massive brunt as a consequence of the deadly COVID-19. 

However, during the pandemic, one occupation that came under the light was the medical profession. Doctors and nurses got the tag of essential workers, and many applauded them for their constant fight against the pandemic. However, they also experienced a significant impact due to the spread of COVID-19. 

Here we will talk about the nursing staff and how COVID-19 impacted this profession for the worse and the better.

The Positive Impact Of COVID-19 On The Nursing Profession:

Amongst all the chaos, COVID-19 also had some positives for the nursing profession. It is not all dull and gloomy for the medical workers, and here we highlight the goodness that came out of the pandemic:

  • The pandemic highlighted the significance of the profession:

Before COVID-19 came into existence, the World Health Organization had declared 2020 the year of nurses and midwives. It was to honor their contributions to the healthcare field and the efforts they put into patient care. However, with COVID-19 spreading like wildfire, the profession of nurses gained a significant light itself. 

Nurses played a massive role in patient care during the pandemic. When patients faced quarantine due to the virus, the only attendees were these helpful nurses. They had to take care of the medical needs as well as the emotional needs of the patients. And this signifies how far and wide the impact of nurses is in the healing of sick people. Moreover, nurses comprise more than 50% of the medical staff in most countries. And this means they were the professionals fighting COVID-19 most prominently. Nurses have the responsibility of making sure all of the patient’s needs get fulfilled. It meant staying around the patients while sacrificing their own mental and physical health. And this by far is the most monumental contribution, and the pandemic highlighted it imminently. 

  • Increased demand means more individuals can join the profession:
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Tackling COVID-19 and the resulting shortage of medical frontline workers highlighted the need for more people to join the profession. As a result, many people can feel motivated to opt for nursing careers that may otherwise feel reluctant to enter this field. 

Before COVID-19, a general misconception was to view nurses as a side role in the entire healthcare system. However, the roles nurses played and their part in devising a structured treatment plan for COVID-19 patients has been immense. All this may encourage aspiring individuals to opt for a nursing degree, such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and feel welcomed by the nursing profession’s growing demand. 

The Negative Impact Of COVID-19 On Nursing Profession:

Undoubtedly, the spread of COVID-19 put the most strain on the medical profession. Doctors and nurses working on the frontline had to go through many fears, anxieties, and apprehensions in dealing with the pandemic. There were several roadblocks, and many times medical professionals suffered massively. 

  • The fear of experiencing a pandemic firsthand:
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Coronavirus is a novel disease. Initially, no one knew how it could react or its effects on an infected individual. Moreover, COVID-19 was also declared to be highly infectious. And this meant the frontline workers were at a high risk of catching the virus themselves. 

Sacrificing their health and working to save the lives of other people requires grit and bravery. Moreover, most nurses have families of their own that were at risk of contracting the virus through frontline workers. In the midst of all this, many countries reported the shortage of proper safety gear for nurses to keep them safe from the virus. The COVID-19 situation highlighted the intense level of hard work required from the profession and the extreme level of effort this profession requires. It also shed light on how the system failed to protect and provide these nurses through proper safety measures or higher pays for extra work hours. 

  • The mental shock of working long hours without compensation:

The fear of the virus added to long working hours without rest has had psychological impacts on the frontline nurses. Such professionals are usually the most needed since they are responsible for direct dealing with patients and taking care of their health continuously. Moreover, due to COVID-19 being a highly infectious disease, no family or friends were allowed with the patients. And this made the responsibility of nurses all the more critical. However, all this had impacts on the mental health of the nurses. 

The increasing spread of the virus meant as many frontline workers were needed to assist patients, conduct research, or handle hospital management. But the numbers were restricted, and so the existing nursing staff overworked. And this meant excessive fatigue and mental distress. Staying away from family in these trying times also resulted in mental strain. Moreover, handling COVID-19 patients made it compulsory for medical staff to gain training relating to the new standard procedures. Since it is a new virus, the team had to be well-educated regarding protecting themselves, treating patients, and dealing with the global pandemic in general. All this meant a lot of work pressure for the nursing profession. 

Conclusion:

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The spread of COVID-19 has had a far-reaching impact on the lives of every individual. It has altered the way people function. All physical interactions are now virtual, whereas many professions got tagged as essential amid the pandemic. This new group of crucial workers included professionals that had to work regardless of lockdowns. And this included the medical frontline workers.

Similarly, the nursing profession also faced impacts due to the emergence of the pandemic. However, one significant effect of COVID-19 was to highlight the importance of doctors and nurses. And how they sacrifice their lives each day and contribute efforts for the well-being of other people.

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