The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, and nursing has been on the forefront since the beginning. Nurses truly are our super-heroes. Leading, and managing, in a pandemic is something we, as nurse leaders, do very well, and in this issue, you will read about the ways nurse leaders took drastic pivots to ensure staff and patients were safe. In the past 9 months, I have observed nurse leaders from all over the country manage complex adaptive systems in a way like no other time in history. Navigating these systems with an interprofessional team, managing staffing, bed control, supplies, and the well-being of their staff; their resilience is amazing.
In a recent study conducted by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, it was reported that some of the biggest challenges included communicating and implementing policy changes, surge staffing, staff well-being, and access to personal protective equipment.1 The survey validates what we have heard from our authors in this issue. The American Hospital Association launched a national advertisement campaign to remind the public that as hospitals are fighting COVID-19 they are still here to care for them in every way, every day. As many Americans have delayed care during this public health crisis, the ad emphasizes to the public that hospitals and health systems are ready and able to serve their communities, just as they always have done and will continue to do.2 As patients delay their care for fear of entering the hospital, I wonder what it will look like when this pandemic is over. We will have more patients with chronic disease, and care of these and others most likely will not be provided within a hospital. We will need more nurse leaders along our health care continuum.
In this issue, our authors share with you how they managed during the pandemic, how they changed what they were doing quickly to meet the needs of their patients, staff, and their communities. A common theme of these articles is leadership, change management, and resilience. From the East Coast to the West Coast and, even from Milan, Italy, we can learn about innovative responses to managing during a pandemic from these authors.
As Guest Editors Drs Mary O'Connor and Dan Weberg point out, our authors have highlighted the multiple cracks in our health care system and we may never go back to the way we were. I hope we do not. Author Dr Kathleen Williamson and her team write about challenges in academic nursing and how higher education has experienced a paradigm shift; that maintaining our momentum to move to the new reality will require leadership. Academia has been hard hit by the pandemic but in a different way than hospitals do. The “next normal” will be shaped as we move forward, and hospitals and schools of nursing will continue to work together to meet the needs of our patients and communities.
While I write this editorial, we are in the midst of our third surge and the vaccine is being distributed this week. By the time you read this, many people will have been vaccinated! I think of our first responders, frontline workers, and my heart goes out to them. Hospitals, health systems, and academic institutions across the nation and globally stepped up to the crisis quickly and painfully. We, as a health care community, have learned from each surge what works and what does not work in terms of planning and keeping people safe. This is a challenging time, but as nurse leaders, we are up to the challenge!
Thank you for all you do for nursing, our patients, and our communities. #wearamask
—KT Waxman, DNP, MBA, RN, CNL, CHSE, CENP, FSSH, FAONL, FAAN
Nursing Administration Quarterly
1. American Organization for Nursing Leadership. Nursing leadership COVID-19 survey. https://www.aonl.org/resources/nursing-leadership-covid-19-survey
. Accessed December 12, 2020.
2. American Hospital Association. Updates and resources on novel coronavirus (COVID-19). https://www.aha.org/2020-01-22-updates-and-resources-novel-coronavirus-2019-cov
. Accessed December 12, 2020.