Nurses are getting CREATIVE!
I have learned so many hacks since the pandemic began, it’s crazy.
I’ve learned to bundle my cares to preserve PPE and the amount of times I’m in and out of the room. When I enter a COVID room I’m in there for a good 45 minutes trying to turn 4 trips into 1.
We’ve got all of our IV poles and drips in the hallway and then have a crazy amount of extension tubing to get to the patient so we don’t have to go into the room every time the IV beeps (which is constantly) or we need to hang a new bag of medications .
We’ve gotten good at coming up with all kinds of ways to make our job easier and ultimately preserve PPE and limit exposure. Insulin is stored in the rooms, stat locks on the doors to hold all of our tubing, just to name a few.
I’ve also gotten pretty creative in terms of doing things on my own. More often than not, I’m turning the patients, boosting, and giving baths all by myself. I’m pretty good with the bed functions and getting creative with the ceiling lift to get the job done.
Nurses in public health are getting creative when making flow sheets, algorithms, and collecting and tracking data. Think about the creativity it took to think about how we conduct drive through testing in the winter. Think of all the ways nurses are working to keep family involved in their loved ones care miles away with Zoom and FaceTime. Think of how nurses need to manage staffing for the entire hospital when staff themselves are getting sick. COVID is changing the way we think and do our jobs every day – that requires a ton of creativity and problem solving skills.
Good management got better. Bad management got worse.
This one is pretty self explanatory. The bad got worse, the good got better. Problems that were bubbling under the surface were exposed.
If you were short staffed before the pandemic, you got more short staffed.
If money was an issue before the pandemic, you got even more broke.
If you were short on supplies/equipment before the pandemic, you now don’t have the equipment you need.
If morale was an issue before the pandemic, it got much worse.
If nurse:patient ratios were unmanageable before the pandemic, the patient load is now impossible.
If staff was unhappy before the pandemic, they sure aren’t happy now.
I could go on, I won’t.
On the flip side, can you imagine how strong our leaders will be if they can lead a team through a global pandemic? Through staff shortages, tough losses, new policies and procedures, supply and equipment shortages, if they can get through COVID they can get through anything.
Nurses are getting flexible.
Nurse practitioners are being brought back to the bedside to work as nurses. Nurses are being floated to unfamiliar units. Surgery nurses are now working the drive thru testing. Here are a few examples of how this played out in my hospital:
Our orthopedic floor was converted to a COVID wing – these nurses knew hip replacements and knee replacements like the back of their hand and now they are only working with COVID patients with complex health needs and who are medically fragile in comparison to their typical patient load.
Our same-day-surgery (SDS) nurses, at one point in time, were hosting and caring for general observation medical patients as SDS was converted to a 24 hour unit.
So many times we’ve had nurses floated to our unit form other floors to help out. Nurses are being completely uprooted from their comfort zone and placed in a new unfamiliar environment.
The patients are sicker than ever.
These people are sick. Something as simple as a position change can take hours to fully recover from. These patients are extremely fragile and unpredictable. The acuity level has gone up across the board. The ICU has sicker patients which means the general COVID wing has sicker patients, and it just trickles down.
Nurses are being recognized in so many ways.
Nurses are speaking up about burnout and mental health.
Nurses are speaking up about safe nurse:patient ratios.
Nurses are speaking up about what ISN’T working.
Nurses are advocating for and educating the general public.
We’ve been hailed as healthcare heroes and highly valued and trusted colleagues.
We’ve been given a platform, we’ve been given the spotlight to highlight ongoing issues and problems we face as a profession.