With the world finally returning to a seemingly normal state, or what everyone knows more as the “new normal,” one cannot help but ask: is it finally over? We know that the virus is still there, but with everyone being well-educated on how to stay safe and intercept the virus, the light at the end of the tunnel seems a lot brighter. No, it’s not yet over, but we’re definitely getting there.
Every global phenomenon comes with a slew of lessons one can apply in case something similar happens. For hospitals and other medical institutions, the lessons learned from COVID spanned from handling the current pandemic to envisioning the future of healthcare in the United States. So what are these tenets of wisdom healthcare employers should be carrying with them, whether there’s a pandemic or not?
Telemedicine isn’t the future; it’s the present.
The idea of being evaluated for vital signs or symptoms over the phone or through a Zoom call didn’t sit well with some in the healthcare industry. In fact, there was some hesitation over the quality of care delivered through online means. While concerns of falsifying conditions were understandable when health checks are done virtually, it was the only way for many during the pandemic to be assessed if individuals indeed fell victim to the virus.
Last 2020, there was an estimate that the US healthcare system would potentially be spending $250 billion in virtually enabled care. True enough, telemedicine was utilized 38 times more than before the pandemic. Furthermore, consumers and healthcare companies’ attitudes toward telemedicine, with healthcare providers finding ways to improve the system, for example, with concerns over the security of data.
Hospitals and similar organizations should look into telemedicine as not only a new business opportunity but also flexible means to provide care for patients. Additionally, it opens a new frontier for nurses, and even doctors, to extend their capabilities beyond the bedside and into people’s homes through virtual means. Tech-savvy nurses can easily branch into this new job description, while hospitals can look into hiring more telemedicine nurses to serve an even greater population.
Racial differences in healthcare are still a problem, and the pandemic highlighted this.
While the virus affected anyone regardless of their nationality or color, part of the things we learned from the pandemic is that discrimination in healthcare is sadly still existent. A study revealed that even if access-to-care factors (e.g. income, insurance, etc.) were controlled, individuals of color still received negative healthcare services from both doctors and nurses. About twenty years after, the study still holds true, as implicit bias still remains a problem for patients of color.
In a 2019 survey, one in five respondents admitted to being discriminated against in one of their experiences concerning healthcare. These bouts of discrimination have dire effects on the victims, exacerbating their health conditions due to lack of care. For example, black patients in Mississippi who underwent at least moderate discrimination were found to develop high blood pressure compared to those who were not prejudiced. While discrimination is already evil in itself, it snowballs into the victims developing health complications.
Asian Americans, on the other hand, experienced more fatalities, COVID-related or not, compared to their Hispanic-American counterparts. This is because Asian Americans received lesser testing rates, which can stem from discrimination against Asians during the height of the pandemic.
To counter this discrimination against patients, hospitals should promote inclusivity and diversity within their workforce. A diverse nursing community helps to address errors in handling individuals of color, and patients are comforted with seeing nurses who look and talk “just like them.” Language barriers are shattered, and so is the fear that one is judged just because they are part of a race experiencing healthcare difficulties. While racism is still an ongoing fight, battling it in hospitals is just part of efforts toward promoting inclusivity.
Taking care of nurses starts with caring for their mental health.
The life of a nurse is already challenging, mental health-wise. While the idea that a nurse can lead a patient toward recovery, the road toward a patient finally saying goodbye as they are discharged is still a long way to go. Nurses have to endure the agony of their patients going through pain and suffering. Being at the receiving end, nurses also have to manage and prevent bad things that could affect their own headspace. One can only imagine the constant hurt nurses experience when the patient they cared for did not make it.
Now, imagine these struggles of a nurse amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the multiple deaths hospitals experienced in the past two years, nurses had to go through learning that their efforts to keep the virus at bay were futile in preserving lives. This is why nurses, like many healthcare workers, experienced mental health issues during the pandemic.
Nurse burnout is real: 17 percent of left their job due to said burnout in 2008, with this number ballooning to 31.8 percent in 2018. Aside from the physical stress of donning PPE the entire day and exhaustive efforts in keeping hospitals safe and clean, nurses are also subject to psychological stress in the form prolonged hospital shifts and demands from patients, their families, and the hospital itself.
This is the reason why many nurses left their profession in the middle of the pandemic. In fact, one out of five nurses resigned since the pandemic began. Between 35 and 54 percent of nurses were already feeling burned out before COVID hit the globe, and experiencing further stress during the pandemic pushed them to leave their jobs altogether.
Additionally, nurses also experienced PTSD-like symptoms after working with COVID patients. There were also widespread cases of depression, anxiety, and insomnia among nurses, which is not surprising due to the stress they have to go through. Psychological support should be a priority for nurses so as not to put them in a place that will make them give up on their profession. More than added benefits or a bigger salary, nurses should be cared for. In a profession where one has to give a lot of oneself, one should feel recharged and not empty to function well.
Be prepared for the future through PRS Global.
A nursing workforce willing to try out new roles, take care of their mental health, and also gather those from diverse cultures and backgrounds: looks like this is the recipe for a futureproofed healthcare facility. As the pandemic is hopefully nearing a close, employers should be bringing with them things we learned from the pandemic, and one of those is how to hire the right nurses. PRS Global can help you with this.
PRS Global is the one and only staffing partner for hospitals and healthcare facilities like yours in carrying over lessons learned from COVID through the nurses you must employ. Created by healthcare professionals who understand the nursing career the best, PRS Global is an expert in looking for qualified nurses that will promote diversity in your healthcare company while bringing their world-class flair and passion for taking care of others.
Furthermore, PRS Global’s tried and tested program of ushering international nurses into a new working and living environment is in line with the need to maintain nurses’ headspace, whether there’s a pandemic or not. The staffing partner is also dedicated to helping immigrant nurses achieve citizenship, get their license right away, and assimilate to moving into the US with ease.
Contact PRS Global now to usher your healthcare facility into the post-COVID era.