Reflecting over the past couple of years, most people would agree that by a long shot, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about more chaos than anything else. However, for one invaluable industry, the worldwide crisis seems to have paved the way for a much brighter and more promising future.
Here are a few ways that COVID-19 has transformed the nursing industry for the better.
The Inadequate Staffing Issue is Finally Being Addressed
Though nurse burnout reached an all-time high at the peak of the pandemic, overwhelmed skilled healthcare workers are a tale as old as time. Sadly, nurse staffing shortages have been a common theme in all healthcare sectors, from hospital settings to both skilled nursing and long-term care facilities. In fact, a 2019 study conducted by USA Today revealed that at least 82 percent of skilled nursing facilities failed to appease the nurse-staffing standards recommended by the federal government.
Before the global health crisis, though, this extreme lack of manpower was much easier to mask by requesting that nurses spend less time with each patient and commit to longer shifts to ensure that everyone received the care they needed. But with more patients falling ill with the virus and fewer hands on deck, poor patient outcomes followed in high numbers, and nurses began leaving their careers behind in packs. After catching an overwhelming amount of bad press and witnessing a decrease in quality healthcare, leaders around the world have begun making great strides to see that they are operating with much safer staffing ratios.
It Has Unveiled the Severity of Unsafe Work Conditions
If any single group has proven their resilience time and time again, it would definitely be the brave and resourceful souls that make up the nursing profession. But unfortunately, they have a history that has been marked with poor work conditions that show little regard for their personal well-being as they work to preserve the health of our growing society.
As it turns out, COVID-19 was just the event needed to put this long-standing plight on display. As the infectious virus made its way around the globe and led to more critical cases, it became even more crucial for nurses to be provided with the resources and support needed to stay healthy and manage the spread of the disease. Present day, you will find that most nurse-supported facilities are now operating with upgraded personal protective equipment and have stronger policies in place to alleviate much of the stress that can contribute to a toxic work environment.
Nursing is No Longer Limited to the Bedside
Nursing is undoubtedly a passion-fueled job, but working by the bedside simply isn’t the best long-term fit for some skilled workers. Fortunately, though, tough times have a way of bringing about new ideas. Many nurses have embarked on new career paths that involve aesthetic work, home healthcare, medical writing, and even telehealth, all areas that still thrive today.
To be fair, telehealth has been around for quite some time, but before social distancing made its introduction, it hadn’t really taken off the way it should have. Fast forward to now, virtual health visits have become a normal and trusted way to both deliver and receive care, making telehealth nursing a huge opportunity for those looking to make an impact from afar.
Above all else, the collective voice of the overworked and underappreciated nurse is finally being heard. And best of all, the public has taken a stance to urge industry leaders to be more proactive about not only meeting, but exceeding, the needs of our frontline heroes.