One thing life and the nursing profession has taught me is sometimes you need to look in the rearview mirror to see where we’ve been to really appreciate where were going in the future. 2021 has been a challenging year for many reasons, yet we’ve persevered and learned some valuable lessons along the way.
- Resilience is key. Burnout and exhaustion increased as the pandemic raged across the globe. It’s clear that healthcare institutions must recognize that the workforce is their greatest asset, and they must foster resilience to keep healthcare workers at the bedside. They need to address staffing, provide a safe work environment, and provide support for clinicians who are physically and emotionally exhausted, morally injured, and are having mental health issues.
- Safe staffing fosters resiliency and improves patient outcomes. The first step to addressing resiliency is addressing the need for qualified, competent staffing and providing a safe work environment. Nurses want to deliver high quality, evidence-based care but, they can’t do it without the right staff. Healthcare institutions need to find creative ways to retain their talent, bring new nurses into the organization, develop flexible care models and build up cross-trained float pools to provide agility and efficiency to care for patients.
- Health equity is the cornerstone to improving health for individuals and communities. Recognize and address health equity, diversity, and inclusion to improve health for all individuals and their communities. These are not new issues; they’ve been amplified by the pandemic. Healthcare organizations and academia need to recognize that equitable, care without judgement is necessary to improve individual and community health related outcomes.
- Academia and practice collaboration can improve the nursing shortage. The first step is to increase the number of full-time, part-time, and adjunct faculty and pay them what they’re worth. Develop academic/practice partnerships, transition to practice programs, and nurse internship programs and increase clinical sites to develop practice-ready nurses. Use simulation and advances in technology to educate students and practicing nurses on advances in healthcare standards. Reach people when they are making career decisions so they will consider nursing as a profession.
- Use science and evidence to address COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation. COVID-19 has been a charged topic from the beginning of 2020 and misinformation abounds. The only way to address misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines is to use science as the basis for discussions and interactions. COVID-19 is a public health issue; leave politics out of the equation. We are the most trusted profession and it’s our professional responsibility to speak the truth using evidence.
And finally, nursing is a profession that strives to provide evidence-based, high-quality care without judgement for all people no matter their beliefs. Be proud of the care you provide, the lives you have touched, and the impact you’ve made by providing equitable, best care everywhere.