Infection control prevention (IPC) measures have been stepped up. Hand washing which has been a basic measure has been practiced “(now)” than it has been before. Waste segregation, disposal and use of personal protective equipment has even been taught to everyone. Use of masks, face shields and body suits are some things that will stay in nursing long after the pandemic. A face mask may likely be part of the nursing uniform moving forward. Accessories like phones and watches may be restricted in hospital unless they are in air tight bags. A study revealed a reduction of hospital acquired infections since the stepped up measures of IPC. The improved IPC models taken by your hospitals will be permanent.
Shift duration in isolation centers vary from 2 to 6 hours across the globe. The other departments have changed the shifts’ duration to reduce exposure time. This is likely to go on beyond the pandemic. An example of a shift model in a COVID-19 isolation center; 2 weeks duty, 2 weeks quarantine then 2 weeks off. Different models are available. This will inform future shift structures beyond the pandemic.
Nursing training has been evolving to put prominence to community health. This is being given the needed push by the pandemic. You have witnessed how hospitals have struggled with high influx of patients. Shifting the focus to community health to curb community transmission. It complements medical surgical and midwifery components. It works well with the known concept of prevention is better than cure. Turning the focus to health promotion.
The nursing shortage stands at 5.9 M as captured in the world’s state of nursing report 2020. The pandemic has revealed this as many hospitals have grappled with few nurses. More nurses have been employed since the pandemic. The hospitals need more nurses to apply the new shift models. The few numbers have dwindled further as older nurses have taken leave. Some have decided against working during this period for various reasons. Regrettably many nursing heroes have lost the war to the pandemic.
Mental well-being of the nurses has been highlighted. Some hospitals have come up with programs for nurses working with COVID-19 patients. Nothing prepares you for the suffering and deaths people have been experiencing. Some nurses have even committed suicide during this period. Mental health of the nurses will be given more attention. Hospitals will have to create structured therapies. This will ensure the nurses’ mental health is good to enable them care for patients.
As long as the pandemic stays or after, Nursing will have to change. You will have to evolve every aspect to align with the new normal.