The COVID-19 pandemic arrived without warning and led to numerous changes worldwide. Many daily activities we took for granted couldn’t happen for weeks or months. Family members and friends fell sick, and some even lost their lives.
The difficulties of this past year taught us many things. We learned to be thankful for our health, time with loved ones, and the ability to travel. 2020 also showed us the value and importance of nurses.
Who Are These Professionals?
Nurses are known as the caring side of the medical profession. They have the know-how to ensure patients’ well-being but also provide a human touch essential for healing.
Nursing professionals can have many different titles. Some of these are:
- The licensed practical nurse (LPN)
- Registered nurse (RN)
- Nurse practitioner (NP)
- Nurse midwife
- Nurse anesthetist
LPNs and RNs generally provide direct patient care. They may work with all types of patients or exclusively with a specific group like children or the elderly.
NPS specializes in diagnosis and treatment and can perform many of the same tasks as a general practitioner. Nurses may also choose to specialize in areas like midwifery or anesthesia.
Nursing and Pandemics
For centuries, nurses have been the primary source of care during pandemics. In the nineteenth century, typhoid and cholera were widespread.
In the early twentieth century, tuberculosis was one of the most feared infectious diseases. An outbreak of the Spanish Flu came not long afterward.
Nurses in charge of caring for the sick had several tasks, including:
- Feeding and washing patients
- Applying lotions and poultices
- Monitoring patients’ breathing and temperature
- Keeping wards well ventilated
- Maintaining high standards of hygiene
The Roles of Nurses in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Technology has increased over the years, but nursing professionals still perform many of the same tasks as they did centuries ago. They have roles in education, frontline care, making improvements, and applying vaccines.
Offering Education and Information
Nurses have provided education and information about COVID-19 in many ways. These include:
- Helping people understand the symptoms of the disease
- Teaching preventive measures like handwashing and social distancing
- Encouraging the public to be prudent but not panic
Providing Daily Frontline Care
Nursing professionals provide vital support during any health crisis. They serve as a link between a patient and the rest of the professionals providing services.
Nurses spend their whole shifts with their patients. As a result, they can note subtle changes that indicate a person is getting better or worse. They then report these findings to other professionals who make decisions regarding treatment.
Making Observations and Suggesting Improvements
Community health nurses have an experience that makes them experts in the needs of high-risk populations. They can inform authorities regarding how to support the homeless or other vulnerable groups during a pandemic.
Nurses can also work with the local government to improve emergency management plans. They often serve as advocates to engage community leaders to support disease prevention efforts.
The COVID-19 vaccine took months to develop and approve, but it’s finally available to the general population. Nurses are now on the front lines of inoculation efforts, working daily to protect people through prevention.
In a Nutshell
In 2020, we saw firsthand the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As in centuries past, nurses proved to be central to helping the population cope with this health crisis. They continue providing education and daily patient care.
Nurses’ observations and suggestions help shape the healthcare system’s responses and government policy. These professionals continue on the front lines in vaccination efforts around the world. Because of the pandemic, 2020 reminded us that nurses are of inestimable value and importance.