by Brittany Turner, MSN, RN
The country, rather the world, is experiencing something unlike anything we have encountered during most of our lifetimes. ‘Pandemic, illness, precautions, PPE, emergency, virus, mortality, shortages, isolation, distancing’ — all of these are words floating in seemingly every news article and communication that comes flooding across our social media, emails, and TV stations. It is understandable that the inherent response to this situation be anxiety, fear, panic, and uncertainty. However, one group exceedingly casts these natural responses aside, in order to serve the greater good, fulfil the call, and practice their passion to help those in need; nurses are acting with unbelievable heroism.
Heroism comes at a price. The most obvious is the risk to physical health through increased risk of exposure. But there is also the mental and emotional strain that comes along with placing oneself in the path of probable harm.
The National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder has recommendations for healthcare workers during this time. The highlights are:
• Fight stress through preparedness.
Every nurse should demand that the organization they work for is doing everything possible in addressing preparedness, education, employee needs, and employee safety; take steps so that you feel prepared in your work and home.
• Address stress regularly and take care during working shifts.
Taking time for reflection, rest, refreshment/food, self-monitoring, and refocusing can help manage stress and create opportunities to identify needed self-care.
• Prepare for the aftermath.
Stress will continue to linger, even after the worst of COVID-19 passes. Be prepared with a plan on how to cope, reenergize, focus, and move forward in healthy ways. Know your resources, such as employee assistance programs or mental health services in your area. Acknowledging how this pandemic has affected your emotional or mental well-being is not weakness. The mental health impact is expected. While the world considers you a hero, we are all still human.
As nurses are not the only frontline health workers serving with bravery in the face of a pandemic, we recognize physicians, practitioners, respiratory therapists, radiology, nursing assistants, chaplains, EMT/paramedics, as well as those who serve in non-direct patient care roles that enable healthcare to keep going.
We are all in this together. To those serving with unbelievable and undeniable heroism, THANK YOU.
View the full healthcare worker recommendation:
Managing Healthcare Workers’ Stress Associated with the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak
Our patients, and the general public are also experiencing fear in this time. Feel free to reference the following resource links and share with anyone you chose as appropriate.
For Providers and Community Leaders: Helping People Manage Stress Associated with the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak