Nurses work at the ground zero of the healthcare system. Patients often require more than one nurse to take care of them. Resultantly, nurses are fulfilling the job of more than one person as they are often needed to do more. During the pandemic, nurses played an integral role in keeping the healthcare system afloat. Otherwise, the pressure of the pandemic and millions of patients around the globe contracting the infection could have drowned it easily.
Though, the fractures and shortcomings of the global healthcare system became very apparent. One of the major fractures witnessed around the globe was the shortage of medical staff, including nurses. Even more so was the lack of highly skilled nurses with advanced knowledge of the spread and containment of infection.
Not just the patients, nurses with outdated medical information and mere diploma programs also struggled to understand the issues of social distancing, the use of PPEs, and the medicinal requirements of patients. Outdated knowledge was increasingly seen as a barrier to learning new skills. However, among them were some who saw an opportunity in the crisis.
How Did Nurses Respond To Skill Shortages During The Pandemic?
It is interesting to see how nurses were ready to leap forward even under the pressure of their job and the rising infection rate. Many nurses were seen up-skilling themselves by enrolling in new degree programs. The trend to enroll in an online masters nursing program saw a boost as nurses saw this as an opportunity to outshine others in the field and move up the development ladder. Online programs really suit the healthcare professional as they allow them to manage a work-study regime without impacting their professional duties. Nurses are often very busy, so with online programs, they can make their own schedule too. Apart from enrolling in new degrees, nurses also responded to the call for online training and workshops about infection control, personal protective equipment, and much more.
The shortage of nurses is not limited to the pandemic only. In general, the demand for nurses in the United States is higher than the supply of new skilled nurses. It is expected that the US will witness this shortage from current times through 2030. A document published in May/June 2018 forecasted the shortage of nurses highlighted that a lack of nurses is expected to spread to the entire country from 2016-2030. Among the whole country, the South and the West will be hit hardest by a decreased number of RNs.
Why Is The Demand For Nurses Increasing In General?
The reason for an increased demand for nurses is threefold. It is due to a combined effect of an aging population, the aging and near to retirement workforce, and an overall limited supply of new nurses. Due to an aging population, the requirement for patient care providers increases exponentially. As for the new recruitments of the nurses, it is only not even balancing the loss of workforce due to aging or retirement. Having a surplus in healthcare is the long shot that is yet to be met.
Nurses are demanded in healthcare because any other entity cannot fulfill their work in healthcare. Their presence is indispensable for the normal functioning of the healthcare industry in various aspects. A few of the factors highlighting the importance of the nurses to the healthcare system are curated below.
Nurses Earn The Trust Of The Patients
Patients come to the hospitals with all kinds of diseases and medical conditions. They are often uncertain as to what will happen to them and how acute their illness is. During this time, they need people they can trust and who show them a ray of hope for a happy future and better days. Nurses start interacting with patients from the time they come to the main desk of the hospital. They enquire about their condition, talk to them and take their vitals. This may look like small talk, but this is how they develop a rapport with the patients and start building their trust. This trust is crucial because nurses need to know about all the details of a medical condition that many people avoid disclosing.
Nurses Spend The Maximum Time With The Patient
Nurses are the only medical professionals in healthcare who spend the longest time with patients and their families. Their time is not spent administering medicine only, but they offer emotional support to them too. Families find solace in discussing the issues of their patients with the nurses. Nurses also discuss their own experiences and help families cope with their illnesses and trauma with their continuous with them. They also help them understand the importance of a balanced diet, disease control and prevention, and much more.
Nurses Remain Vigilant About Patient’s Condition
When we say that a particular doctor cured a specific patient, we often forget to credit the vigilance of the nurse who communicates the patient condition to the doctor. As they spend time with a patient round the clock, they tabulate the changing state and symptoms. This helps the doctors to diagnose the patients better, change the medications, and timely use new methods of patient care. Because of their vigilance, they have helped save many lives by picking up on the early warnings of the conditions such as cardiac arrest, pulmonary or respiratory failures.
Nurses Are Patient’s Advocates
Patients have no way to make their voices without nurses in the healthcare system. Nurses are the patients’ advocates and act as liaisons between patients and administration. By voicing their concerns, they often push for policy changes, better service delivery, and improvements in the medical facilities. In addition to that, they can uncover many new details about the patients’ medical condition with their discussion with patients’ families. They may also communicate to the concerned doctor about the inefficacy of a particular drug on a patient and asks for changes.
Nurses are integral to the healthcare system due to their role as educators, patients’ advocates, and healthcare providers. They build trust with the patients and try to understand their medical and emotional situations. They are the heroes who save lives by vigilance and timely reporting of sudden changes in patients’ conditions.