Nurse Expertise: A Critical Resource in the COVID-19 Pandemic Response

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Abstract

Across the world, from our unique place within multi-disciplinary health teams, nurses are preparing for, working to overcome, or recovering from the first waves of the worst pandemic humanity has seen in a century. While in the media, nurses are predominantly depicted providing direct patient care; we are also well represented at every level of pandemic response from advising governments to leading research, coordinating public health teams, and strategizing humanitarian responses to COVID-19. Nurses comprise the largest component of the health workforce, playing a key role in developing practice, and preserving the core values of health systems globally. Through the agency of sound expertise and credo, nurses underwrite best practice and advocate for health equity. During this pandemic, nurses continue to research, inform policy, and where appropriate, effect change to the full extent of their expertise for the benefit of public health [1, 2]. Nurse expertise in infection prevention and control, critical care, palliative care, and public health will constitute the difference between the success and failure of global health systems to hold or collapse, and the preservation or loss of countless lives. Central to all of these roles is our adaptability and our capacity to preserve human dignity and ease suffering. Nurses see and practice healthcare through a different lens to other health professions and are often described as the linchpin of health systems. We are the group of healthcare professionals with the closest and most constant proximity to patients and are often exposed to danger and moral dilemmas, facing impossible choices in the context of overwhelming need amid resource constraints. Nurses are uniquely placed to convene multi-disciplinary health professional teams for patient safety and wellbeing [3]. Nursing care is the greatest investment made in healthcare and accordingly has the greatest impact on patient outcomes. With this in mind, we face an extraordinary challenge to respond to a situation that is without precedent, highly uncertain, and changing constantly in countries worldwide. As leading nurse scholars and clinicians, we focus here on critical aspects of the pandemic response, moving from populations to systems, to people, incorporating both curative and palliative considerations. We provide practical, solution-based perspectives in a humble effort to help mitigate health risks and to strengthen the health service response.
Original languageEnglish
Article number49
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Global Health
Volume86
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2020

Keywords

  • Global health
  • pandemic
  • Nursing role
  • COVID-19
  • critical care
  • infection prevention and control

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