By TONYCHRIS NNAKA
In March of 2020, once we had restricted data on the infectivity and virulence of the virus that causes COVID-19, I joined a staff of essential care nurses who have been prepared to threat their lives to look after these affected by COVID-19. As a full-time PhD pupil in nursing, a brand new mother or father to my toddler son, a main caregiver to my 73-year-old mom, and as somebody with a recognized historical past of extreme bronchial asthma, I knew that I used to be embarking on a journey that would doubtlessly value me my skilled and private desires and endanger these I look after essentially the most in life: my household. My intentions to observe solely part-time as a essential care nurse whereas pursuing full-time research have been halted after solely two weeks of managing critically in poor health COVID-19 sufferers early within the pandemic. The numerous code blues and unprecedented ranges of affected person deaths made it clear that we have been in uncharted territory. After seeing the ache and worry on the faces of my nursing friends, I knew I might by no means go away them behind on this new battlefield. So, I stayed at bedside full-time for a yr whereas additionally sustaining my full-time standing as a PhD pupil. I needed to. I couldn’t flip my again on my observe oath, or my future skilled targets as a nurse scientist. It’s on this spirit that, on behalf of myself and my exhausted colleagues, I name on these with essential care expertise who’ve stepped away from bedside to return, as they’re ready, and reply this similar name to motion.
The extent of the essential care nursing scarcity we’re at the moment experiencing is alarming to me and nearly past my comprehension. This scarcity has compelled essential care nurses who’ve been at bedside since March of final yr to stay at bedside whilst a number of of us have reached the breaking level of psychological exhaustion. Our determined outcry for backup from our fellow essential care nurse colleagues appears to have yielded no final result. It’s apparent that addressing this scarcity would require an answer with speedy implementation as we don’t have time for the coaching of extra essential care nurses. Thus, a right away name to all nurse anesthesia college students to return to bedside must be part of any technique geared in the direction of rapidly addressing problems with this essential care nursing scarcity.
At a time when the function of essential care registered nurses is most wanted, a number of nurse anesthesia applications proceed with their common admission cycle protocol: pulling essential care nurses away from bedside. At my present hospital, we misplaced practically a dozen essential care nurse colleagues to nurse anesthesia applications between March and Might of 2020 on the peak of the pandemic. For the reason that nurse anesthesia program necessities stipulate a minimal of 1 yr of essential care nursing expertise, all program candidates possess extremely specialised medical abilities wanted for the care of critically in poor health COVID-19 sufferers. Whereas there are unarguable causes as to why some nurse anesthesia college students have but to reply this pressing name to obligation, we as a career, and as a society should do what we are able to to incentivize them to return to bedside to assist relieve the struggling of sufferers and exhausted nurses who’ve fought tirelessly on the frontlines because the onset of the pandemic – lots of whom have misplaced their lives because of this.
As leaders with the flexibility to steer their members and lawmakers, skilled nursing organizations such because the American Affiliation of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) and American Nurses Affiliation (ANA) must be on the forefront of encouraging nurse anesthesia college students to return to bedside. For instance, by facilitating partnerships between nurse anesthesia applications and close by hospitals with excessive COVID-19 affected person census and aiding these applications to develop tutorial credit score incentives for college kids who select to render essential care nursing help to hospitals. Importantly, skilled nursing organizations have the flexibility to advocate at a nationwide degree with policymakers for different incentives that may assist nurses returning to bedside. Such incentives may very well be mortgage forgiveness applications for nurse anesthesia college students (and different graduate college students with essential care expertise) in an change for time at bedside. We must be persuading our nation’s policymakers and healthcare leaders to put money into these college students somewhat than solely devoting nationwide emergency funds to journey nursing companies. AANA and ANA, amongst different skilled nursing organizations, should additionally get artistic in collaborating with policymakers, education schemes, and employers to scale back the danger of a possible max exodus of burnt out nurses away from bedside on the finish of the pandemic.
To reiterate, we the nurses who’ve been at bedside because the starting of this pandemic are burned out and close to exhaustion, proper because the pandemic reaches report numbers of deaths and hospitalizations every day. Whereas thanking us for our sacrifice, calling us heroes, and sending us meals are good gestures, we desperately want actual motion from policymakers, skilled nursing organizations, and the general public to deliver us actual reduction that may empower us to maintain ourselves for the sake of offering one of the best affected person care doable. We will begin by empowering our nurse anesthesia college students to return to bedside to alleviate exhausted skilled nurses with recent skilled nurses.
Tonychris Nnaka, MPH, RN is an Affiliate Supervisor of Crucial Care Unit at Parkland Well being and Hospital System in Dallas Texas and a nursing PhD pupil from the College of Nursing on the College of Texas at Austin.