Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Why COVID-19 is a turning point for nursing and nurses – Express Healthcare



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As we mark International Nurses Day on May 12, Capt Sandhya Shankar Pandey, Chief of Nursing, Fortis Healthcare hopes that the newly earned recognition and image makeover of the nursing profession thanks to COVID-19, will attract the younger generation in the country to opt for this profession

It has been more than 14 months that the country is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike the soldiers in the battlefield, it’s the warriors donned in PPE fighting the COVID-19 war round the clock for us.

While we sit in the admin blocks or our offices strategising our next move to optimise manpower for the next shift, day or the coming week, we look at the infected workforce unavailable to work, the employees under home quarantine, the new incidences of spreading infection, the need for screening every employee, patient and attendant visiting the hospital for treatment or deploying people to get the patient updates from the closed COVID-19 units to their doctors, families and friends, one name prevails to cater each of such needs: the nurse.

The nurse, the so-called “Jack of all” is equipped with all such traits to meet the new requirements of the changing times imposed due to the pandemic.

A young nurse, from one of the Fortis units says, “Its so lonely here taking care of so many patients when I fulfil their requirements as a resident, caregiver, General Duty Assistant (GDA), pharmacist, a dietician, a friend and an ad hoc parent. I like it when their fear alleviates with my words, they trust my messages and confide in me.” It’s been a mere eight months since the young lady has been out of college. Fledgling and naïve.

I recall one of my supervisor nurses, who contracted COVID-19 infection and was admitted in the COVID-19 ward. Soon after three days of stabilisation, while she was yet to regain her strength, she couldn’t hold herself seeing her younger team members struggling to fulfil the patient demands and started to share their work in patient care. Herself weak and vulnerable, she put aside her urgency to take rest, heal and wait to get back to action.

A turning point for the nursing profession

While hundreds of nurses have received an opportunity to express, showcase their work and share their stories through various channels and platforms, no section of the community was left behind recognising them as “Hero”, “Covid warrior”, “Rescuing Nightingales”, “Angels of Life” etc. It is a turning point in the way society looks at nursing and perceives a nurse to be.

I quote International Council of Nurses Chief Executive Howard Catton who said, “Nurses have gone through ‘mass traumatisation’ during the pandemic, as hospitals were pushed to physical and mental exhaustion.” Furthermore, he added, “They reach a point where they’ve given everything they can.”

Though these grilling times have left their scars behind on every facet of nurses’ life, these implications of the pandemic are the burning facts which couldn’t be ignored any more. It’s crucial for the torch-bearers of healthcare to pause for a while, retrospect and acknowledge the following points which have emerged strong during this pandemic:

  • Nursing Practice and Medical Practice are two different distinguished skill sets which are, interdependent but irreplaceable.
  • Patient recovery is largely dependent on the type of care given and the competence of the nursing staff.
  • No matter how good the surgery and how expensive the treatment, it’s the quality of scientific care and the healing touch which travels parallelly in toto in the therapeutic journey. I quote eminent clinician, Dr Devi Shetty that a patient in ICU does not get well because of being in ICU, it is the way the nurses in ICU manage their patients. Finally, the much-awaited statement gets its due place holding, the Nursing Care plays the pivotal and equal role in the recovery of a patient.
  • Superior-subordinate relationship has a bleak future, Co-Working is the way forward. This realisation has to dawn on to the management, doctors and nurses. Pertinently for nurses on their environmental awareness, building capability and competency, analysing the healthcare scenarios and need for rising to the expectations.
  • Hospital operations to be the compulsory subject to be taught in all sessions with high weightage.
  • Emerging Roles of digital initiatives and other new streams (infection prevention, long term care, oxygen nurse, advance nurse practitioners etc) defining the future of nursing.
  • Nurses to uplift themselves to earn the empowerment and lead bedside clinical leadership to boardroom leadership.

While we are concerned that the global workforce of the nurses at the hospitals during the pandemic drastically shrank to just 6 million from the previous 27 million, this included at least 4 million that were already looking for retirement by 2030 (ICN Chief on March 10, 2021).

Hopefully this newly earned recognition and image makeover stays and attracts the younger generation in the country to opt for this profession, and the tribe expands.

(Contributors to this article:

Merlin Gayathri, Manager-Nursing, Medical Strategy and Operations Group, Fortis Healthcare
Navjyoti Jandu, Senior Supervisor, Medical Strategy and Operations Group, Fortis Healthcare
Minimol Varghese, CON, Fortis Mulund, Mumbai
Neelam Deshwal, CON, Fortis Mohali, Punjab
Jermin Roshini, CON, CG Road, Bangalore
Shanti Rani, CON, Malar, Chennai)



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