This week was a big week in the history of COVID. On April 10, 2021, President Joe Biden signed H.J. Res. 7, a resolution that expedites the end of the national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic from its planned May 11 deadline. The resolution had previously passed in the House on February 1 and in the Senate on March 29 and formally ended the national emergency declared on March 13, 2020. It is wild to think that almost three years from the start, there is some sort of closure. But the reality of what is left behind is still real and raw for many of our healthcare professionals. Staffing shortages, wages contracting, and health issues still prevail making many thinking, where does nursing go from here?
Key advantages for nurses as a result of the signing
The end of the COVID-19 national emergency means that nurses can continue to provide care for their patients in a safe and secure environment. It allows for more mobility in terms of nurses being able to take assignments outside of their own area if needed, without the added worry of medical emergencies or other complications related to COVID-19. The end of the national emergency will also mean that nurses can access additional resources and support that have been made available throughout the pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, nurses have had to endure a variety of COVID-19 related complications, both physical and psychological. Physically, nurses were forced to take extra precautions and fatigue from long shifts was a common complaint. Mentally, many experienced distresses due to the fear of contracting the virus or passing it on to their loved ones. Nurses also faced emotional exhaustion from having to provide care for so many critically ill patients while still struggling with their own emotions. The emotional stress caused by the pandemic also further complicated existing issues such as burnout, job insecurity or lack of support from colleagues or employers.
The end of the national emergency brings nurses a sense of relief knowing that they can finally resume normal routines and provide care without the worry of potentially exposing themselves to the once unknown virus. The need for additional protective equipment and staffing will be reduced, allowing nurses to focus on their primary role as caregivers. Furthermore, access to mental health services, financial support, and other resources will also become available as restrictions are lifted. This will give nurses time for self-care and allow them to better address existing challenges in order to help them cope with the long-term effects of COVID-19.
Still addressing the long-term concerns
We can all recognize that because a piece of paper was signed, doesn’t mean there aren’t lingering issues and concerns as well as long-lasting impacts that a global pandemic has on healthcare as a whole. The volume of burnout, depression, anxiety, trauma, sleep deprivation, and exhaustion over the last three years was at a level that many had never experienced before in their nursing careers. Hospitals everywhere were very concerned over caregiver fatigue because it can lead to a decrease in quality of patient care as well as an increased risk of making errors.
In addition to the rapid changes in process and trying to normalize to pre-COVID era, there is also a heightened risk of job insecurity for nurses due to budget cuts or changes in staffing needs. The market has contracted, and surge pricing and travel volumes seem to change by the day. It’s important now, more than ever, that nurses and healthcare professionals alike take a serious look at how they are managing their career. The reliance on third-party recruiters and traditional agencies will have limitations and their focus will remain on their personal bottom line and not that of the nurse.
To be a nurse means you have heard the calling and you want to give back. This is a great time for you to consider different types of contracts. Not just travel nursing but per diem too. Create some flexibility in your schedule, continue to earn top dollar, but give yourself some time for respite in the wake of COVID.
The news is fresh and the aftermath of the pandemic on nursing continues to evolve. We see this news as an opportunity to consider where you’d like to take your career and the potential of change for yourself.
SkillGigs launched its healthcare division before COVID. And the reasons for launching then, are the same as now, the career journey and choice should be in the hands of the nurse. From location searches, to pay negotiations, to managing onboarding paperwork, should not be dependent on a stranger. Nurses have proven they are resilient beyond belief, and it’s important that we remind them that they too can take control of their careers.