The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the healthcare industry. Nursing professionals were one of the most impacted personnel as they were at the forefront of this crisis. Nurses are vital in any healthcare organization as they care for patients and support other medical staff. However, the pandemic has led to several changes in nursing practices, including nursing processes, changes in equipment and others.
This article will explore how nursing has changed in hospitals post-COVID-19. It will give an overview of the impact of the pandemic and the long-term effects of these changes on the healthcare industry.
Changes in nursing processes
The COVID-19 pandemic led to significant changes in nursing processes in hospitals worldwide, including pre-screening patients, isolation procedures, telehealth and virtual care, changes in medication administration and impacts on nurse-patient relationships. These changes are designed to protect patients and medical staff and reduce the risk of transmission.
One of the most significant changes in nursing processes is pre-screening patients. Most hospitals now require patients to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure before entering the hospital. This screening process involves temperature checks and may include questionnaires or other assessments. Patients exhibiting symptoms or having been exposed to the virus are isolated and treated according to specific protocols to prevent further virus transmission.
Isolation procedures became stringent during the pandemic, and any patient suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 was isolated in designated hospital areas. This is also currently followed so that nursing professionals can follow specific protocols while caring for these patients and remain safe.
The pandemic led to a rise in telehealth and virtual care practices. Nurses and medical staff are now using telehealth to offer care remotely, lowering the requirements of in-person visits. This minimizes the transmission risk and offers medical care to patients in remote locations. Virtual care is also used for patient consultation, monitoring and follow-up care.
The pandemic also resulted in major medication administration changes. Many hospitals have implemented guidelines for medication delivery so that there is reduced contact and minimum chances of virus transmission. For example, nurses use specialized medication carts to dispense medications to patients while minimizing contact with other medical staff.
Lastly, it has also affected nurse-patient relationships. Social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and isolation protocols have made it difficult for nurses to connect with their patients. It is more challenging to communicate effectively. Nurses need alternative ways to provide emotional support, especially after the challenging pandemic.
Changes in equipment and technology
The pandemic has also led to changes in the hospital equipment and technology that nurses use. All of these changes have improved the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of care delivery by nurses.
One of the most important changes has been implementing new equipment and technology to prevent and control infections. Hospitals have increased their use of disinfection robots and other specialized equipment to clean patient rooms and common areas. Cleanliness and hygiene have become a cornerstone of hospital effectiveness and patient satisfaction. It will reduce transmission risk and improve patient and medical staff safety.
Some hospitals have also implemented new technology for remote monitoring and data analysis. This technology provides nurses and medical staff with real-time data on patient health, vital signs and other critical information. The collected data can help nurses make informed decisions and improve patient outcomes.
While telehealth technology existed before the pandemic, it wasn’t utilized as much because most patients favored in-patient visits. It gained better acceptance during the pandemic by allowing patients to consult from the comfort of their homes. Conversely, it also allowed nurses and medical staff to provide remote care, lowering the risk of transmission and curtailing in-person visits. With people becoming more comfortable with telehealth consultations, nurses are now using the technology for patient consultations, monitoring and follow-up care.
Along with the equipment and technology, even the physical layouts of hospitals have changed to improve safety and efficiency. Some hospitals created designated areas for pandemic patients, and others installed plexiglass barriers or redesigned waiting for areas to improve social distancing.
Finally, PPE became a mandatory aspect of nursing. It protected nurses from patients while reducing the virus spread to other patients and medical staff. However, the increased use of PPE was not without its challenges. As it is still being used now, some nurses have reported discomfort and difficulty communicating with patients while wearing masks and face shields. Additionally, the increased demand for PPE has led to shortages, impacting patient care and increasing the risk of infection for medical staff.
Impact of the pandemic on nursing education and training
Nursing schools and training programs have had to adapt to the changing healthcare landscape. For example, there are new protocols and guidelines for patient care and safety. The COVID-19 pandemic also had a significant impact on nursing education and training. This includes integrating telehealth and virtual care into the curriculum, new clinical guidelines, and an emphasis on continuing education and training to stay up to date.
Integration of telehealth and virtual care practices has been one of the most significant changes in the nursing curriculum over the years. As telehealth technology became widely acceptable during the pandemic, nursing schools have had to teach students how to use this technology effectively to provide the best possible care remotely.
During the pandemic, nursing schools had to tailor their clinical training programs to ensure that students could safely and effectively provide care. Schools provided training on infection prevention, control, PPE use and isolation procedures.
Even nursing certification exams have changed. Many are now conducted online. Some have even been modified to include additional questions related to COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.
Lastly, the pandemic showcased the importance of continued learning and training for nurses. Nurses must stay updated on new treatment protocols, guidelines and technology as the healthcare landscape changes. It will allow them to offer their patients the best and most effective care. This is possible through continuous learning programs. The online master’s of nursing program from Elmhurst University can help you prepare for the ever-growing nursing profession after the pandemic.
As mentioned above, there were significant changes in nursing practice during the pandemic, and many of these changes are likely to continue.
Telehealth and virtual care delivery proved to be quite effective in providing healthcare services, especially for patients unable or unwilling to visit hospitals in person. The pandemic certainly increased the adoption of these services, and the trend is likely to continue as patients are more likely to give the same amount of trust to online consultations as to in-person visits. Nurses will need to learn how to effectively use these technologies to provide high-quality care to patients remotely. This may include developing new skills in remote patient education, telemonitoring and virtual consultation.
The pandemic also emphasized the significance of infection prevention and control. In the future, hospitals and other medical facilities will be stricter and may continue to use new equipment and technology for sanitization. Additionally, nurses and other medical staff must remain vigilant in using PPE to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Education and infection prevention and control training has become an ongoing priority for all nursing programs and healthcare facilities.
The pandemic also highlighted the importance of mental health for healthcare workers. It took a significant toll on nurses who were frontline workers during the pandemic. Along with causing burnout, the pandemic also tested the resilience and adaptability of nurses and even the whole healthcare system. Hospitals and clinics must prioritize mental health support for nurses and medical staff to help prevent burnout and ensure that they can continue to provide high-quality care. They must provide access to mental health services, create a culture of support and recognition, and address the underlying causes of stress and burnout. There needs to be training in crisis management and stress management for nurses and the healthcare system to respond to any challenging situation with resilience.
During the pandemic, there were disparities in health outcomes, particularly among vulnerable and marginalized populations such as low-income communities and people of color. Nurses must continue to address the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in healthcare to ensure that all patients receive high-quality care. They must advocate for policies and practices promoting health equity and access to healthcare services. This may include integrating cultural competency training in all nursing programs so that nurses are sensitive to different cultures and patients from diverse populations.
Interprofessional collaboration became a pillar in the healthcare industry during the pandemic. Moving forward, nurses must continue working with other healthcare professionals, including physicians, pharmacists and social workers, to offer high-quality, comprehensive care to patients. Nursing programs must emphasize the importance of interprofessional relationships and communication to prepare future nurses for a collaborative healthcare approach.
The pandemic underscored the prominence of disaster preparedness in healthcare. Nurses and the healthcare industry must be prepared for future outbreaks and disasters. They must have plans for emergencies, such as emergency protocols, PPE guidelines, surge staffing and others.
While digital technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in the healthcare industry, the pandemic accelerated its adoption, especially for electronic health records (EHRs) and telehealth. Nurses must learn digital skills to use these technologies effectively for patient treatment.
Patient-centered care also became important during the pandemic, and this trend will continue. Nurses must focus on developing strong communication skills to build trusting relationships with patients. This will allow them to provide care tailored to patients’ requirements and preferences. They will have to incorporate patient feedback into care plans and focus on using patient-centered approaches to care delivery.
The pandemic highlighted the significance of health promotion and prevention in healthcare. Nurses are crucial in promoting healthy behaviors, educating patients about chronic disease prevention, lifestyle counseling and community outreach. After the pandemic, educating patients and communities about healthy practices and the best ways to prevent diseases and infections has become even more important.
The future of nursing post-pandemic is likely to be shaped by a range of factors, including a bigger emphasis on digital health, health promotion, prevention, resilience, mental health, a focus on inclusivity, and advances in nursing education. Nurses must continue to adapt to these changes and develop new skills and knowledge to provide high-quality care in the post-pandemic world.
The COVID-19 pandemic had an overwhelming impact on healthcare services across the world. It brought about significant changes in nursing processes, the use of PPE, technology, nursing education and training. All of these changes had an impact on nursing and healthcare services post-pandemic.
The pandemic highlighted the roles of nurses in healthcare as frontline workers responsible for patient care and keeping communities safe. Nurses showed remarkable resilience and adaptability as the world grappled with an unknown scenario and unprecedented challenges in care delivery.
Moving forward, it is crucial to recognize the importance of nurses in the healthcare industry and to provide support for them. The lessons learned from the pandemic can help strengthen nursing practice through education and training. With the right support, investment and resources, nurses will remain at the forefront of healthcare and shape the industry’s future.