5 Ways COVID-19 has Changed Nursing!

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.

Now is our time. 2020 truly has been the year of the nurse.

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8 Comments

  1. margaret Parks
    December 29, 2020 / 1:14 pm

    What well written comments! This should be published for others to read. I am a retired RN and have said all along that no one realizes what Nursing staff is going through. Lay people think all nurses can work on any unit, maybe 50-60 years ago but NOT now. 50-60 yrs ago, ICU patients would not have even made it to the hospital, let alone survive! thank you for all you do.

  2. Elle
    December 29, 2020 / 4:16 pm

    Fantastic post! Educate Educate Educate. People need to understand what is needed for safe care-for both the patient and the provider.

    Cheers to you!

  3. Linda in NE
    December 29, 2020 / 9:14 pm

    Thank you and all the other nurses who are working their butts off to save people. Thank you to your families who take on the load at home so you can do your job. I know you are all giving your all, but please take the time to get your sleep, take a little time to unwind. Getting run down and catching the virus could be bad.

  4. Susan the Farm Quilter
    December 29, 2020 / 10:41 pm

    Nurses have always been heroes, unsung by so many that are now recognizing your value. Do remember to take care of yourself in any way that replenishes your energy and well-being. CNA/NACs are also working harder to help the patients and nurses through this insanity. When I has surgery in August, I definitely saw my CNA more than my nurse, but I wasn’t fragile and didn’t need the nurse’s attention often. Y’all have an crazy load…ICU shouldn’t have more that 1-2 patients at most (this is from a non-medical person, mind you) because they need to be monitored every second. I’m sure your COVID patients are just as demanding. What can a lay-person do that would help ease your load as a nurse, beyond not getting sick? How can we help our local hospitals and nurses? So many want to help, but we have absolutely no clue what to do! My only experience of ICU was visiting my cousin in ICU the day before she died from brain cancer.

  5. Carolyn
    December 29, 2020 / 11:04 pm

    We have always had to adapt and c.one up w some creative ways to do things. Thank you for sharing this!

  6. Katherine Gourley
    December 29, 2020 / 11:25 pm

    You are so right — bad managers get worse and good managers get better during crisis. I am 70 years old and a retired nurse. Uness you are a nurse, one cannot understand how deplorable it is to work without what you need. So often families criticize the nurse not thinking of just how the nurse is saving their loved one. Nurses are people with feelings and families and it is time others realize that and treat them with dignity.

  7. Angela Short
    December 29, 2020 / 11:31 pm

    Thank you for your post. Thank you for being a nurse. I appreciate you with ALL my heart. You are a super hero, no doubt about it. You are amazing and thoughtful. Please get some rest and sleep and please remember to have fun along the way. Laughter is good. Thank you for being such a strong woman.

  8. Ellie
    December 30, 2020 / 1:21 pm

    A huge thank you to you , your colleagues and all the families. Those of us outside of healthcare have little idea of just how difficult your jobs have become. Susan asked if there is anything we can do to show our appreciation. I’m sure if you wrote a post about some things we could do to show our appreciation readers would respond. A simple thank you doesn’t seem to be enough. Nevertheless, thank you for all you’re doing.

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