Until the era of the “Lady with the Lamp,” nursing was considered a menial profession. Time and again, it has proved crucial. Even when money and power could not hold off the seemingly mild virus, nurses and doctors became our frontline heroes. Seeing how nurses are playing their part in the pandemic is teaching us to value nursing education even more than before.
This has pushed many governments and institutes to work towards making reforms. Said measures would promote nursing education. Because nurses are not only crucial for surviving pandemics but also post-pandemic conditions.
The greatest hindrance for nurses in the pandemic is the lack of exposure and experience. Many transitioning nurses were unable to adjust to this new environment. Instead, they were rushed into unprotected and uncertain surroundings with only their nursing education to count on.
Like other educational fields, nursing education is also getting its share of change in curriculum and style. It has experienced the following practical and noticeable changes:
High-Quality Nursing Education Must Continue
The government posted many last year or residency nurses to take care of the pandemic victims. This not only put the patients at risk of compromised healthcare but also the nurses. Such nurses had to adjust to turbulent times on very short notice.
Sure, innovation and flexibility are in demand under such conditions. And non-registered nurses have successfully assumed many nursing roles in similar times. Even so, it greatly magnifies the risk factor. However, this measure also prevents students from continuing their education. To safeguard the health of both parties, such interruptions shouldn’t occur. For instance, those students can continue their classes digitally.
Nursing Faculty must not Discontinue Training
Nursing is probably one of the few careers that can never become obsolete or irrelevant during a pandemic. Considering how there is an urgent need for well-trained nurses right now, there should be plans to prevent delays in nursing education and graduation.
For example, one such step would be for the nursing faculty to speed up and finish courses earlier than scheduled.
Upgrade and Modify the Nursing Education Experience
Despite graduation and training, it is impossible to train nurses on how to act in all kinds of unexpected circumstances. Throughout their education, they handle cases either under supervision or in a theoretical manner.
For that reason, simulation training needs to be fully embraced. Virtual reality, video simulation, and interactive videos can prove beneficial for a new nurse exposed to turbulent times. However, this needs a great deal of funding and immediate modernization.
Support the Transition of New Nurses
Moving from a supervised and sheltered environment to the real world is always a difficult transition, and all the more so for nurses. However, the pandemic has made the situation even worse. Due to limited experience and practice, it can get overwhelming for new nurses to work efficiently handling real-time cases.
A united effort and systematic cooperative functioning of the healthcare department can prepare them to cross this hurdle. Otherwise, nurses may even harm patients by facilitating the spread of diseases.
Protecting New Nurses and Graduates
The most important one of all reforms is the protection of new nurses. Despite all instructions and standard protective gear, there are always anomalous cases that can overwhelm the nurses. Anxiety can become a prevalent condition in such circumstances. In a study, 12.4% of nursing students claimed to feel anxious about being directly exposed to the pandemic.
If not looked out for properly, the nurses can become victims of the virus. Even worse, they could be asymptomatic carriers of the disease. Interaction with patients with low immunity may even increase the mortality rate significantly.
Preparing Nurses for Telehealth Services
Not only are the nurses now required to attend to those suffering from COVID-19. But they must also entertain other patients. As per the pandemic protocol, the advice was that people seek medical help digitally — if their condition isn’t life threatening. However, what follows is the modification of nursing education to train nurses to practice telemedicine.
It is not news that the trend of telemedicine is here to stay. This reform, amongst the many others, may become a permanent addition to nursing education. Modern times require nurses to have versatility. Thus, they must have the training to attend to their patients in various circumstances. If you want to become great at nursing, supplement your classes with other courses.
Making Efforts in Enhancing Knowledge on COVID-19 (Prevention and Management)
To healthcare professionals, such as nurses, it isn’t just about living through this pandemic. They must also learn and research about how to prevent those in the future. For that, they’d need to conduct studies on disease-spread prevention too.
Additionally, these professionals need to know how to manage a pandemic if it occurs. Thus, the nursing education curriculum must incorporate cures that work. Besides treating the afflicted, future nurses would need to learn how to support those under their care – physically and psychologically.
Other than that, they should study the following things happening right now:
- Our lived experiences
- Which strategies are working best
- The policies that are most successful
Hence, tracking which administrative strategies keep the disease from spreading is important. Additionally, they’d need to determine how to do that in both healthcare and community settings.
Then the exploration of cultural differences must also become part of nursing curricula:
- How does the way cultures perceive COVID-19 impact its spread?
- Which beliefs hinder or accelerate the disease’s progression across the globe?
Thus, the curriculum for nursing education could well need an overhaul!
Nursing is, no doubt, an essential healthcare service. Its role during the pandemic is commendable. The pandemic has affected nursing education quite positively. The many changes to the system are giving future nurses a fighting chance!