1. Gould, Kathleen Ahern PhD, RN

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As we enter a new year, many people struggle with feelings that are quite new. Beverly Beckham1 compares our retry with weary travelers adjusting to a new time zone[horizontal ellipsis]after losing 2 years. A new and novel virus changed us and much of the world around us. The isolation and challenges altered us, our work, and our relationships. Almost 3 years ago, on March 12, 2020, as the world shut down, we were naive to the challenges ahead. Our routines, economic stability, cultural norms, work, and personal relationships shifted overnight. As we move forward, we need time to reconcile, rejoice, and reflect. We have experienced a culture shift.


Today's society experienced losses often apricated by our ancestors, but not seen in our lifetime. We are fortunate to live in a time when modern medicine had conquered many communicable and common childhood diseases, made major improvements in work conditions, and contained environmental hazards. Before COVID-19, it seemed that we had a test, a drug, a treatment for everything. Being unprepared was new for most of us; we lived in a world of astounding medical advances and adequate supplies and services. Pandemic supply chain failures, political strife, and policy blunders were impossible to ignore as providers worked toward the same goals-safe patient outcomes. Medical personnel realized disparities we could no longer ignore, often losing frontline support staff to the first waves of the virus. Uncertainty was the most consistent emotion at work and at home. Ebola, Zika, COVID-19, and monkeypox were not covered in our textbooks or classrooms, but as they made headlines in 2021 to 2022, we scrambled to learn and cope, to protect our patients and families. With each new threat, we learned and persisted, realizing what historians already know. History teaches that only in the rise and fall of diseases will we learn. In the last years, we grew locally, globally, personally, and professionally. Still grieving, but regrouping, we know that new threats will come, but we will be ready for them.


Lopez, a thoughtful writer for The New York Times, reminds us that there are aspects about public health that we know very little about. The past years offered new lessons about the spread of diseases. COVID showed us that we were not prepared for a deadly pandemic. Monkeypox, although nowhere as dangerous as COVID, provided insights into our vulnerabilities. Lopez2 writes, "much of our lack of knowledge is related to the unpredictability of human behavior. Scientists can map viruses but have a hard time guessing what people will do."


In a recent op-ed, Hise Gibson and MaShon Wilson3 of the Harvard Review, write, "As the post-pandemic world starts to take shape, many leaders will long to return to life before COVID-19. Instead, they should let go of the past and forge a new, better workplace." They suggest that leaders assess their current cultures and take stock of how they handled the pandemic. They suggest using the CARE framework for organizational introspection. Using this framework, leaders may (1) collaborate on culture, (2) assess the organization, (3) reflect on the blind spots, and (4) execute and reevaluate. Once these steps are complete, organizations and individuals can move forward with 3 additional considerations in place: (1) create a system for evaluating and reviewing crisis plans, (2) acknowledge change, and (3) train to prevent organizational forgetfulness.3


Today we are strong, not as invincible, but still flourishing-and organizations and health care workers are flourishing as well. It is an important time to reflect, use lessons learned, and move forward from a new place. Although the faces and names may be different, nurses continue to lead health care innovation. A new group of leaders, authors, educators, and clinical experts emerged with a clear vision and voice. Professional publication experienced a boom, as providers shared new ways of knowing, of thinking, and of caring. Our journal was fortunate to share much of this work. We are in awe of what our colleagues accomplished during these years.


In 2023, we will be kinder and wiser; perhaps we will listen more, stay alert to public health needs, the complexities of disparities, and the value of attentive leadership. The culture shift has brought us to a new place. We will not return to normal, but a new normal-as we move forward from a new place. Take time to find the right balance and forward movement that works for you! Happy new year.




1. Beckham B. We need to find ways to carry on in our world that's changed. Boston Globe. October 16, 2022. [Context Link]


2. Lopez G. Good morning. Monkeypox's decline has lessons for future disease outbreaks. The New York Times. October 13, 2022. [Context Link]


3. Gibson HO, Wilson M. Let's move forward from COVID-without forgetting what we have learned. Harvard Business School. April 14, 2022. Accessed October 12, 2022. [Context Link]