Now, Extra Than Ever, Let’s Pay attention To—And Assist—Our Nurses
Nurses have been the backbone of the fight against this COVID-19 pandemic – from investigating and caring for the very first case in the US, to administering vaccines, to all of the difficult times in between. In addition to the harrowing images we see of nurses caring for the critically ill in hospitals, countless others are working hard in other places, changing our daily lives.
Jonas Nursing and Veterans Healthcare (JNVH) is the signature program of Jonas Philanthropies. Working with nursing schools across the country, Jonas Nursing and Veterans Healthcare identifies and invests in potential nursing PhD students who will address our nation’s most pressing health needs. These nurses will continue to provide leadership roles as faculty, clinical directors, and researchers.
A health crisis like this pandemic adds to both the importance of nurses as leaders in our health system and the invaluable insights they provide as we work to understand how to navigate through and end this pandemic. I recently spoke to four past Jonas Philanthropies Nursing Scholars about what their own COVID-19 trips taught them as we head into 2021.
“We’re all together and need each other now more than ever,” said Briana L. Snyder, assistant professor of nursing at Towson University’s College of Health Professions in Towson, Maryland. As a psychiatric / psychiatric nurse working with inpatient trauma survivors, Snyder has witnessed the impact of the pandemic on the psychological and emotional wellbeing of her patients and colleagues alike. “Compassionate fatigue” and burnout in nursing are real, especially at a time of crisis where fear is high everywhere. She encourages us to speak up when we need support. Recognizing personal warning signs of psychological trauma and reaching out to friends, family, or mental health professionals is the first step in feeling better.
Kristen Choi, a pediatric psychiatric nurse and assistant professor at the UCLA School of Nursing in Los Angeles, California, recommended “using technology to meet the unmet needs of our children.” According to Choi approximately one in six children and one in six teenagers in the United States Suffered from a pre-pandemic mental health, developmental or behavioral disorder and 70 percent of the US states have not yet had a child psychiatrist COVID-19 has the potential to widen the gap between the percentage of children who will need psychiatric care prior to the pandemic and the percentage who will need such care during the pandemic. Early research of COVID-19 has shown increased levels of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems in children. But there is reason for hope: Choi said the pandemic also sheds light on how technology can provide resources to children who previously had no access. It is up to us to use these methods to help children adjust and heal.
Infection control and promotion of vaccination
“Minimize the risk of spreading,” said Shanina C. Knighton, clinical nurse-scientist at Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing in Cleveland, Ohio. Once the pandemic broke out, Knighton, who has been involved in infection prevention for more than a decade, used her research to educate low-income communities, small businesses and grocery stores on the use of personal protective equipment and good hand hygiene practices, and reducing health risks in general. As an advocate for protecting important workers, Knighton has influenced Ohio public guidelines for these infection control practices. It encourages us all to take safety measures seriously, even if we are not living with a pandemic, especially when it comes to reaching patients low income communitieswho are consistently hardest hit by infections.
Julie Conboy Russo, a PhD student at Molloy College at Rockville Center in New York, remarked, “You have to trust science.” Vaccination skepticism among health professionals has dominated headlines, and a recent study found that 29 percent of healthcare workers were reluctant to get a vaccine. Russo has seen doubts and misinformation among her colleagues at the long-term care facility where she recently worked. Building on her position as a nurse, the most trustworthy profession For nearly two decades (according to Gallup’s honesty and ethics survey), she became a reassuring voice of sanity and a source of factual information for her co-workers and friends after receiving her first of two COVID-19 vaccinations. As Russo points out, any vaccine-including Measles mumps rubella (MMR) and flu– holds a slim chance of triggering a reaction, however the advantages far outweigh the risks. The more reliable voices like Russo’s are in the world, the faster we can reach them Herd immunity.
These conversations are important, but they are only a start and they all require action. Whether you are a nurse, patient, or donor, we can all keep these stories in mind as we think about how the pandemic has gone and how we move forward from here.