COVID-19 has overwhelmed our healthcare system, causing resource shortages, harmful shifts in social cohesion, increased exposure to suffering and death for healthcare workers, and economic strain.
Throughout the pandemic, healthcare organizations have raised awareness and acknowledgment of the heroic actions of nurses to an all-time high. Now it’s time to turn that acknowledgment into sustained, real-time support to achieve measurable and ever-improving outcomes—through the remainder of the pandemic and beyond.
Billy Rosa, PhD, MBE, ACHPN, FAANP, FAAN, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Psycho-Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, drew on his latest editorial to offer strategies for investing in nursing and leveraging the skills of the healthcare workforce during Tipton Health’s August 19 webinar, “Invest in Nurses NOW to Strengthen the Global COVID-19 Response.”
Nurses deliver up to 90% of primary healthcare services globally and are usually the first—and in many cases the only—health professionals most people encounter. Several reports, such as the WISH Nursing and UHC Forum report, have called for increased autonomy and empowerment of nurses through expanded scope of practice and leveraging nursing expertise.
Dr. Rosa and a team of experts* put together an editorial applying key takeaways from the WISH report to the global COVID-19 response. Here’s what you can do to apply these takeaways in your organization:
Redesign existing services and introduce new and innovative services
- Adopt nurse-led testing, triage and management. This provides an extra layer of support, while freeing up specialists for more critical consultations.
- Create nurse-managed clinics and nurse-led models of training. Nurses are uniquely positioned to contribute to public health awareness, specifically on topics like social distancing, hand-washing and quarantine best practices.
- Remove practice barriers that prevent nurses from working at the full scope of their licensure. This will support optimized disease management beyond COVID-19, as well as health literacy, disease prevention and early detection in case of future health crises.
Develop a comprehensive workforce strategy that maximizes the contributions of all healthcare workers
- Strategize fiscal investment across all aspects of nursing. For example, investing in nursing schools and educational programs is needed to prepare the next group of frontline advocates.
- Maximize nursing student contributions. Prepare nursing students to work in testing, telemedicine and patient education through providing just-in-time training and appropriate supervision.
- Help realize the full potential of nurse practitioners. Educate policymakers, stakeholders and health systems about the roles that APRNs and NPs fill. Their ability to diagnose, treat and prescribe is critical to filling the current gap in available healthcare workers.
Enact supportive legislation and regulation to empower nurses
- Strategize policies to increase tasks and roles of nurses. By allowing nurses more responsibility, you increase palliative care access for patients.
- Include professional associations in response task force planning.
- Nursing schools should reaffirm commitment to community and public health through a curricular emphasis on health emergency preparedness. They should also ensure that leadership and management training is available for all students so that they can be present at the response table as well as the policy-making table.
Raise the profile and status of nursing
- Continue to encourage nurses to take on leadership roles in all settings.
- Ensure honest communication of who nurses are and what they contribute. Increase their representation in the media, encourage them to participate in interviews, promote their writing and publishing, and support them in sharing the heart and soul of what they do.
- Align with global initiatives, such as Nursing Now, to ensure that your local actions are as powerful as possible.
- Promote nursing as a desirable profession now and in the future. There will be a need for 9 million nurses by 2030 globally. Be proactive in filling that gap.
Learn More from Our Speakers
Visit Tiptonhealth.com/webinars/ to view our on-demand webinar video on the why and how of nursing recognition.
Tipton’s next webinar, Building Nurse Resilience to Battle COVID-19 Stress, Depression and Anxiety, will be held August 24, 2020, 12:30–1:30 p.m. EDT.
*Co-authors of the editorial include Agnes Binagwaho, MD, M(Ped), PhD; Howard Catton, MA, BScEcon (Hons), RN; Sheila Davis, DNP, ANP-BC, FAAN; Paul E. Farmer, MD, PhD; Elizabeth Iro, MHSc, MBA, RN, RM; Viola Karanja, BSN, RN; Judy Khanyola, MSc, RCHN; Patricia J. Moreland, PhD, CPNP, FAAN; John C. Welch, DNP, MS, CRNA; and Linda H. Aiken, PhD, RN, FAAN, FRCN.