Last year, the world woke up to an unknown pandemic that spread like wildfire around the globe. The experts raised concerns because of the high transmissibility of the virus among people. However, due to limited resources and late response, the new disease COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020.
Currently, there are more than a million people affected by the pandemic. And, these cases are accelerating at a higher rate, raising the tensions around the globe.
The COVID-19 pandemic shook all the sectors worldwide—especially the healthcare sector with the rising number of infections and deaths. Healthcare professionals struggle to provide necessary care to the infected patients while protecting themselves from the deadly virus. Nurses are one of those frontline workers battling with the disease by providing essential medical care to the patients of COVID-19.
We cannot comprehend the struggles and challenges healthcare workers are going through in the wake of the pandemic. Every healthcare worker has devoted unprecedented amounts of hours and efforts in combating the spread. Doctors and nurses have been struggling with reducing the virus’s impact and are sacrificing their lives in the midst of it. For reducing the virus’s impact, the sterilization of surgical instruments is needed as well.
There was already a severe shortage of nurses in the healthcare sector before the advent of the pandemic. As a result, the ongoing pandemic has elevated their demands profoundly. The rising infections and need for critical care in the healthcare organizations are putting a nerve of overworking on the existing nurses.
A significant way to fill the gap is by encouraging quality education like DNP programs for students to enter healthcare and serve advanced nursing. By considering online DNP programs, individuals can enjoy the flexibility of creating their study schedules within the comfort of home. The degree qualifies them for the advanced role in nursing and meets the rising demands of healthcare professionals.
The pandemic has highlighted the core values and importance of nurses in healthcare. At the same time, it has added numerous prominent challenges for the nurses. Undeniably, these challenges are taking a toll on nurses’ physical, emotional, and moral well-being.
Let’s discuss some of the challenges that nurses are confronting in the pandemic.
• Shortages of Equipment
A prominent issue that nurses are facing during the pandemic is the shortages of protective and medical equipment.
During the wake of the pandemic, healthcare sectors were overwhelmed with the unknown nature of the disease. No one knew what the sources of spread are and how to ensure protection. Medical researchers also responded with practices to wear masks and maintain social distances to curb the spread of novel coronavirus disease.
However, the scarcity of masks, gloves, and social distance impossibility led to severe nursing profession consequences. Most of the personal protective equipment was handed out to doctors only due to unavailability. The situation became so dire that individual healthcare providers took it to social media to attract donors for supplies.
Meanwhile, they are still struggling with the limited protective gear to work in the frontlines of a pandemic.
Nurses need protective essentials, including masks, gowns, goggles, gloves, and sanitizers, to protect themselves and patients from the COVID-19 disease. On the other side, the global lockdown and limited medical equipment production are also causing its shortage. However, the state government is now encouraging private businesses to contribute to healthcare professionals’ medical equipment production.
Moreover, nurses can work on inventory management to raise the alarm when the equipment shortage reaches the critical mark.
• Inadequate Intensive Care Capacity
As the pandemic soars around the globe, nurses are responding to the inadequate intensive care capacity. However, they are sending patients showing mild symptoms to isolate at home.
But the rising number of severe infections is adding pressure on nurses with inadequate intensive care capacity. Patients with pre-existing health conditions or severe infection outcomes rely on the intensive care units, which adds workload on nurses and creates bed capacity shortages. Nurses must make decisions based on the triage protocols to decide whether a patient should stay in hospitals or be sent home for an isolation period.
For that instance, the nursing professionals update themselves with the current information to learn the symptoms and conditions. Moreover, these professionals are taking every measure possible to save the patient’s lives. The healthcare authorities are encouraging them to reallocate the resources from patient-to-patient.
For instance, nurses will assess the patient’s symptoms and progress that is on a ventilator. If the patient is out of danger, the nurses may reallocate the ventilator to the patient with more severe infections. Critical teamwork and hard work are essential for nurses to respond to the pandemic.
• Work Burnout and Depression
As discussed earlier, work burnout is a critical issue in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The overwork and shortage of professionals are escalating the burnout levels at an alarming rate. They suffer from a high level of emotional stress from the rising infections and deaths in the hospitals.
Since nurses directly interact with the patients, their job is emotionally demanding to provide care to them. The limitation of interaction and isolation raises the depression of the patient and emotionally affects the nurses.
Moreover, nurses are also afraid of risking their own and loved one’s life while working on the frontlines. The virus’s high transmissibility creates a grappling issue of staying away from loved ones and treating patients. The infections and deaths among nursing staff lead to vicarious traumatization.
These issues significantly impact nurses’ health and add a dire need to deal with burnout and depression. Part of overcoming these challenges is to temper these dehumanizing situations making the right decision with safety and efficiency. Government authorities are also stepping up to offer counseling and guidance for nurses during these uncertain times.
The ongoing pandemic is highlighting the primary role of nurses in the healthcare sector. Before the pandemic, the world did not give much thought to nurses’ role in the healthcare sector. With pandemic highlighting these issues, it is essential to solving these problems by encouraging new people to fill the expanding professional gaps.
The authorities must ensure that all medical supplies are available to help these professionals to respond to new waves of infections. Moreover, the government is also starting to roll out vaccination drives for healthcare, giving them relief from the challenges. We must continue to play our role to contain the virus’s spread and reduce hospitals’ overwhelming situation.