role of nurses and midwives in pandemic

The year 2020 was declared as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” by the World Health Organization in order to celebrate the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale ((1820–1910). The theme was supported by various organizations, health care systems, professional associations and many other entities worldwide. The advancement of people’s health and welfare due to the significant contributions made by the nurses was appreciated and celebrated by all nations.

Throughout the pandemic the role and responsibilities of the nurses has been highly critical. Being at the front line as far as the care of patients is concerned, they occupy a significant workforce responsible for the task of monitoring and evaluation in hospitals worldwide. Nurses must be able to provide high quality services along with personalized care to the patients in the hospitals keeping aside the fear of the infectious disease of the patient. Apart from this, nurses have to contribute in the development and planning of healthcare systems to cope up with future outbreaks of COVID or any such similar disease which can put intense pressure on the health care services in the countries. In addition, nurses should also ensure the appropriate supply of sanitation materials and personal equipment that provide protection along with keeping a check on their effective usage also. Nurses should provide recent information regarding screening, guidelines related to confinement and protocols of triage. There is requirement of a highly efficient nursing staff in hospitals and clinics for managing this pandemic globally.

In the field of nursing, the definitive professional conduct norm is provided by The American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics for Nurses (2015). It has been specified in Clause 2 that “the sole responsibility of the nurse is toward the patient.” The obligations of a nurse should be similar towards herself as well as others and this is kept in notice by the Clause 5 of the document. There is a  higher chance of clash of responsibilities of  nurses towards themselves and their patients at the time of pandemic as the nurses are bound to look after the patients who are fighting with contagious infections. The pressure on the nurses is more likely to increase in the pandemic situation during stressful times when resources are scarce and the contagion of the disease is unavoidable. At such times, it can be thought by nurses as well as other workers to provide what amount of care will be appropriate as the nurses must ensure good health of themselves as well.

Nurses have played a crucial role during the entire pandemic of COVID-19. Patients are being cared of efficiently and effectively at hospitals, primary care centres as well as social care centres. In response to the excellent contribution shown by nurses towards patient health, people worldwide have shown immense gratitude and satisfaction towards nurses. Apart from the excellent service provided by the nurses, there is still the need for the introduction of certain measures which can enhance the efficiency of their nursing practice.

As nurses occupy a major position in tackling any pandemic or health crisis in the country, nursing profession is regarded as an essential medical profession globally. If we consider United States as an example, there are around 4 million nurses in the entire country and the world count goes to around 20 million.

Role of nurses in providing education to the people– Nurses are not just involved in providing health services to the patient, they are equally involved in imparting public education to people regarding prevention of infectious diseases along with sharing of awareness measures which can help in controlling contamination. Additionally, they are also making people aware of the rumours regarding the disease and an urgent need to stop the spread of misinformation across the entire world.

Role of nurses in imparting psychological support to the patients– When a patient is admitted to the hospital, he or she is very much apprehensive about their recovery. As the infection has different phases, patients need time to time reassurance from the hospital staff regarding their improving health. As different patients are experiencing different symptoms, this brings immense fear and doubt in the minds of the patients regarding their health. Patients have been found to suffer emotional trauma due to infection from coronavirus. Moreover, when the patient is suffering from the disease, he/she is kept separated from their loved ones which eventually make them feel lonely and depressed. Hence, it becomes the duty of the nurses to support the patient emotionally also. Nurses all around the world have played a significant role in psychologically uplifting their patients during the entire pandemic. They have interacted with patients and cleared all their doubts and fears regarding the infection with novel coronavirus. Additionally, in certain cases nurses have also been found to provide the same affection, love and care to the patient as provided by a family member.

Role of nurses in sharing researches based on evidence with the patients– Nurses, who are successfully treating the patients without themselves getting affected from the disease, can share their experience as evidence with their other staff nurses. They can come up with appropriate management protocols to handle the diseased patients more efficiently. Preparedness drills can be developed by nurses for managing the pandemic situation. Additionally, nurses can also participate in evidence based research which can provide convincing arguments for handling COVID patients. Moreover, senior nurses can come up with disaster management plans also which can equip the nurses with appropriate skills to cope up with the disasters that they may encounter in future.

Role of nurses in intensive care units– The role of a nurse in the intensive care unit has also become more challenging during the pandemic. Where the ratio of a nurse to the patient in intensive care units is usually is 1:1, the increased cases during the pandemic changed the ratio to 2:1 and in some cases, it has increased by more than 2 also. Therefore, it is obvious that the nurses will be overloaded with the work and must be equipped with the skills needed to handle larger number of affected patients without themselves getting much affected. As a result, nurses all around the world during the pandemic enhanced their roles as health care workers with working more assertively and in teams which helped them to handle critical situations also.

Undoubtedly, nurses all across the world have extended their capabilities and skills to provide efficient health care to the affected patients. There are instances where nurses themselves got affected and faced severe health concerns. We all must salute the nurses for their excellent services during the pandemic. They have worked without expectations day and night to save the country from this pandemic. Nurses have touched people’s hearts and minds due to their exceptional service in the health sector during the pandemic. We usually do not appreciate much the contribution of the nurses to the health sector; however, COVID-19 has been proved successful in highlighting the extraordinary contribution of the nurses in the tackling of health disasters.

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