Celebrating Nurses – Resiliency in the Face of a Global Pandemic

Nurses take on significant responsibilities and experience a wide range of challenges within their role, yet it is still known to be one of the most rewarding careers in healthcare. Nurses often communicate openly about their love for their career, but that does not mean it is without trials and adversities.  Burnout, compassion fatigue, and stress are common challenges faced in the nursing profession. However, these are significantly compounded during a pandemic. Nurses are resilient, and it shows. The resiliency of the nursing profession has been evident across the country and it is time we shine a spotlight on this important career.

When we speak about resilience, we are referring to the ability of nurses to respond well to stressful, uncertain situations in the workplace. In this current climate where we face a global health crisis, nurses have been showing up with resilience everyday, doing the best they can with what they had available.  Nurses have come together during the global pandemic to fight COVID-19 and provide the best care possible with increasing uncertainty and changing information regarding the virus itself.

The ways resiliency has been demonstrated in nursing during the pandemic is inspiring. Actions big and small in their daily work-life is living proof of the resilience they have demonstrated.

When COVID-19 first hit North America, businesses began to close. People began to tuck away safely in their homes to avoid contracting the virus we knew little about. At the same time, nurses were preparing to ramp up and care for an influx of ill patients. Information about how the virus was spread was limited and there has been a consistent struggle to obtain sufficient PPE to protect frontline workers.

Stepping up through Fear of the Unknown

Nursing during a global pandemic intensifies challenges faced regularly, while bringing in a whole new layer of intricacies. The effect of COVID-19 is wide sweeping and unprecedented, and the frontline workers in healthcare have been a pillar of strength throughout.   The fear of the unknown has been very real, especially during the early stages. For many nurses, information was circulating at a rapid pace, but it became obvious quickly how little was known about the virus. Nurses showed up daily to fight the pandemic even when we had minimal information available at the time.

“We are in uncharted territory in response to the magnitude of the pandemic,” according to Cynda Rushton, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Berman Institute of Bioethics. “It’s a time of great stress and uncertainty, and nurses are rising to the challenge.”

Nurses continued to demonstrate their resilience and help fight COVID-19 day-in and day-out. Some nurses travelled from across the country to COVID hotspots, ready to meet the challenges facing nurses daily.

Providing Compassion and Care for Isolated Patients

Nurses have been standing by critically ill patients in ICU’s across the country and using limited resources and compassion to provide flexible solutions to isolated patients. Many patients have been separated from their families and support systems for weeks, and nurses have been there to bridge the gap and find ways to communicate to their families through video chat, phone calls or any means necessary.

Nurses are there doing the screenings, implementing triage protocols, communicating to families, and trying to care for a huge influx of patients that staffing levels were not designed to support.  These are all challenges faced by nurses across the country, and they have continuously stepped up and gone above and beyond. This pandemic has highlighted the integral role nurses play in the healthcare system. Their flexibility and way they have contributed to the care of critically ill patients has become increasingly obvious to the general public.

Why is resiliency important in nursing?

As we know, the nursing profession often involves a very fast-paced, high-stress work environment. The demand on nurses is high, so developing resiliency within the healthcare system is integral for the well-being of both nurses and patients. Resiliency has proven to help prevent burnout in nurses.  Studies show that stress and burnout in the nursing profession can negatively impact the health and well-being of nurses and can affect patient safety.

What we can learn from nurses during a global pandemic

We have seen how resilience becomes a fundamental aspect of managing stress levels during such a difficult climate. Nurses are the perfect example of this, and we can learn a lot from nurses. A global pandemic affects all of us in one way or another and there are ways we can help manage the stress brought on by such an unprecedented event. We can learn effective strategies for cultivating resilience during a global pandemic, such as:

  • Maintain a support network. Talk about challenges you face and see support from those around you.
  • Build a positive self-image and remind yourself of your strengths.
  • With an ever-changing sense of normalcy, aim for flexibility. Actively look for positive results from the change.
  • Pay attention to your needs and practice self-care. In any demanding profession, caring for yourself will help you contribute positively and reduce burnout.
  • Set reasonable goals to deal with problems. Break problem-solving down into small manageable steps. Experiment with, and use, a range of problem-solving strategies.

Resilience will not eliminate the stress of COVID-19 for nurses, and it will not eliminate it in your life either. However, as we have learned from nurses, resilience helps one adapt and overcome the stresses that are experienced during such a time of unprecedented change. The nursing profession has been a display and example of resiliency and the pandemic has highlighted their ability to adapt and persevere. Nursing has long been known as a profession with trustworthiness and dedication to quality care. It has now become more evident than ever. Nursing is an occupation that prepares you for the unimaginable, but seeing nurses evolve and adapt during a pandemic is incredibly inspiring.

If you are interested in learning more about a career in nursing, City College offers an Associate of Science Degree in Nursing that can prepare you for a challenging, dynamic and fulfilling career.