Emerging Global Health Concerns: How Nurses Respond
June 4, 2020
Response by Luke Simpson and colleagues to OJIN topic: “Emerging Global Health Concerns: How Nurses Respond.” (January 31, 2017)
We are writing to OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing to cover an important perspective of the CoVid-19 pandemic. As graduating BSN students, we hold a unique position as we are emerging from clinical experiences, ready to assume our position as registered nurses. Graduating early will enable us to acquire our nursing license sooner and join the workforce.
The world is facing a rapidly spreading viral pandemic with a high mortality rate. This new virus, which has no treatment or vaccination, is overwhelming hospitals with the increased number of patients. Due to this increase, hospitals require more nurses and doctors to assist in providing quality patient care.
According to AP News (Winfield & Barry, March 2, 2020), in Italy, student nurses preparing for final exams in the following months are now expected to graduate within days, to meet demand for intensive nursing care of Covid-19 patients. Meanwhile, student nurses in Chicago, including ourselves, are put on an extended spring break, with our remaining mandatory clinical hours converted to an online virtual experience. We have been denied clinical participation during this historical delivery of healthcare in the midst of a pandemic.
Illinois governor, JB Pritzker, is requesting retired healthcare workers to rejoin the workforce to address the staffing deficits in hospitals (Wang, 2020). Additionally, the Illinois Emergency Communications team released an alert to further encourage healthcare workers to re-enter the field. (Illinois Department of Public Health, 2020) However, as most of them are older (retired), they fall under the high-risk category to contract and suffer from complications of CoVid-19. Furthermore, depending the length of their retirement, their skills may compromise their safety and the safety of patients. Our argument is that current nursing students are more capable of assisting in this healthcare crisis as they are not in the high-risk category for complication from CoVid-19. They can safely deliver basic primary care to patients and are more familiar with current evidenced-based practice nursing skills, as well as the technology used in the hospital.
The nursing programs prepare us for both primary and skilled nursing grounded in evidence-based practice. Therefore, we can safely join and assist by providing primary care as well as utilize skills that do not require a nursing license. Our entry into the workforce will ease the burden currently being experienced by nurses. In addition, experienced nurses in other units can possibly be moved to dedicated critical care units to care for patients with CoVid-19.
We believe a reevaluation of our nursing curricula needs to be performed, starting with our purpose as nursing students. We have a unique opportunity in history to help those in need during this crisis. Why hinder and subjugate our clinical experiences when instead, there is an option to foster our engagement in battling this pandemic. If we can provide aid for those in need, if we can alleviate even a small fraction of the stressors of other healthcare professionals, why are we not given the clinical opportunity we have worked and paid for?
Illinois Department of Public Health. (2020). COVID-19 call for support. IllinoisHELPS. Retrieved from https://www.illinoishelps.net
Wang, J. (2020, March 21). Pritzker issues plea to former healthcare workers as virus spreads. WGNTV. Retrieved from: https://wgntv.com/news/coronavirus/pritzker-issues-plea-to-former-healthcare-workers-as-virus-spreads/
Winfield, N. & Barry, C. (2020, March 2). Italy’s health system at limit in virus-struck Lombardy. AP News. Retrieved from: https://apnews.com/837274f1bab9af1aab12f1b9481b2d62