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Nursing covers the latest news in nursing and healthcare. See what's making headlines this month!

Friday, November 5, 2021

​By Taylor Hayes

How can nurse leaders develop their emotional and spiritual intelligence to promote self-care amid an ongoing pandemic? Self-care expert, Dean L. Prentice, Colonel (Ret), USAF, NC, DHA, MA, BSN, NE-BC addressed this question at the Nursing Management Congress last month. Prentice's session kicked off this year's conference that centered around the theme “Best Practices for Thriving Now" to educate nurse leaders on improving the overall quality, efficacy, and cost of patient care in their organizations. 


“Self-care is more than just a day at the spa," Prentice joked in this presentation, recognizing the struggles of nurses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Emotional intelligence is valued more than knowledge, technical skills, or traditional measure of intelligence because it determines individual effectiveness and successful business outcomes," he noted as he laid the groundwork for his presentation on self-care strategies.  

 To address feelings of burnout and stress in nurse leaders, Prentice focused on developing emotional intelligence (EQ) and spiritual intelligence (SQ) as forms of self-care—which are also two critical parts of personal and leadership development. EQ is defined by being motivated, self-aware, social, empathetic, and self-regulatory, while SQ is achieved by a higher level of self-regulation. People who possess strong spiritual intelligence typically think outside the box, stray from tradition, and solve problems differently.

It's important to note EQ differentiates high performers and propels leaders and organizations to higher and more sustainable levels of success, but SQ activates qualities of one's authentic self at a higher degree.

Prentice urged all managers to take steps toward both EQ and SQ because “workers and leaders that are better versed in emotional and spiritual intelligence make their place a better place to come to work." He also discussed the importance, synergy, and benefits of emotional and spiritual intelligence in leadership, ways to identify core skills needed to provide self-care and better leadership, and tangible steps to gain and maintain EQ and SQ.

The Nursing Management Congress offers four 90-minute educational sessions relevant to nurse leaders. Following Prentice's session, the second talk was a riveting story from Kevin P. Browne, DNP, RN, CNS, CCRN, who spoke about his experience of being a nurse executive and then patient at his workplace during the pandemic. In the next session, Amy Siple, FNP spoke about developing skills needed to effectively inspire and encourage others. The final session by Joyce Batcheller, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAONL, FAAN, focused on personal practices to become an agile leader and thrive in these challenging times. All presentations were recorded and accessible to registrants for CE credits until January 25, 2022. Register here to watch the recorded sessions and earn CE credits. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

​The highly contagious Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus now makes up an estimated 83% of new COVID-19 cases in the US, according to the CDC.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, announced the new estimates during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The new data can now be found on the CDC's website.

Cases of the Delta variant have surged in the US. The variant had accounted for approximately 32% of COVID-19 cases in the US as of June 19 and 62% of cases as of July 3, according to CDC data.

The rise of the variant coincides with a significant increase in coronavirus cases across every state over the last 2 weeks. COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are also on the rise, according to the CDC, but new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are still far lower than they were at their peaks in January and February 2021.

However, the vast majority of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are among people who are not vaccinated. Tuesday's hearing before Congress followed a White House briefing last week in which Walensky warned that COVID-19 is “becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated." Officials at that briefing said that more of 97% of people who are being hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, and 99.5% of new deaths are among the unvaccinated.

CDC data show that nearly 60% of adults and nearly 50% of the total population are fully vaccinated in the US, but vaccination rates have slowed since the spring.

Monday, June 7, 2021

​By Allana Marie Brown, DNP, PMHNP-BC

Nurses are currently in crisis. The need for tangible support in a fragmented healthcare delivery system is dire. In some settings, nurses are still less than fully equipped to meet care demands amid fluctuating rates of COVID-19 within the US. Although this has become an issue of shared concern among other essential healthcare workers, nurses are particularly challenged as the largest frontline entity within the healthcare industry.  Nurses continue to contend with repeated exposure to infection and death, minimal protection, ethical dilemmas, bureaucratic issues, work-life imbalance, and varying degrees of trauma linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.1,2

Many nurses have come out of retirement to help combat COVID-19, continuing the profession's proud history of rising to the occasion as necessary. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be no exception when it comes to nurses' carrying out their commitment to the profession and patient care. However, acts of heroism in these times ought not to be mistaken for the notion that nurses are invulnerable to COVID-19 itself and its associated health risks. Every day, nurses and other healthcare workers are grappling with all types of stress surrounding the pandemic. The emotional toll includes an increase in conditions such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia, and these are being reported at a rate greater than that of other pandemics.3-5 Studies from China investigating healthcare worker exposure to COVID-19 have shown that nurses are especially vulnerable to psychological distress characterized by depression, anxiety, insomnia, and suicidal ideations.6-8 As similar findings emerge so will the need to secure the health and well-being of nurses and other frontline workers.

Mental health associations such as the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Nurses Association have made various resources freely available to promote mental health and wellness during this time.9,10  Other interventions and resources include the deployment of mental health expertise and access to therapeutic services at the workplace.

The call for support and relief efforts have been made clear by nurses given a platform to speak out on the impact COVID-19. President Dr. Ernest Grant and Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Debbie Hatmaker of the American Nurses Association have made public appearances on major news networks to discuss current practice issues and advocate for better working conditions for frontline nurses rendering care to patients stricken by the novel virus.11,12 A critical care nurse from Arizona gained the nation's attention with her noteworthy demonstration against residents of the state who refuse to follow and adhere to COVID-19 health precautions.13

Nurses must continue to use their voices to raise awareness about concerns that affect the health and vitality of the profession, regardless of how futile these attempts sometimes seem to be in reversing the conditions of our healthcare climate. Safe care and quality assurance depend on nurses who feel heard and well-supported to lead efforts for change. Peer advocacy and support systems should be readily available and called upon with a sense of urgency. In doing so, we can help deter the long-term effects of psychological burdens, mitigate the impact of stress, and build a more resilient healthcare workforce in the face of COVID-19 and future healthcare challenges.


REFERENCES

1. NBC News. Why some nurses have quit during the coronavirus pandemic. 2020.  https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/why-some-nurses-have-quit-during-coronavirus-pandemic-n1201796.

2. WebMD. U.S. nurses already facing severe stress over coronavirus. 2020.  https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200323/us-nurses-already-facing-severe-stress-over-coronavirus#1.

3. Pappa S, Ntella V, Giannakas T, Giannakoulis VG, Papoutsi E, Katsaounou P. Prevalence of depression, anxiety, and insomnia among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Brain Behav Immun. 2020; 88:901-907.

4.  Stelnicki AM, Carleton RN, Reichert C. Nurses' mental health and well-being: COVID-19 impacts. Can J Nurs Res. 2020; 52(3):237-239.

5. Wong AH, Pacella-Labarbara ML, Ray JM, Ranney ML, Chang BP. Healing the healer: protecting emergency health care workers' mental health during COVID-19. Ann Emerg Med. 2020; 76(4):379-384.

6.  Du J, Dong L, Wang T, et al. Psychological symptoms among frontline healthcare workers during COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2020; 67:144-145.

7.  Lai J, Ma S, Wang Y, et al. Factors associated with mental health outcomes among health  care workers exposed to coronavirus disease 2019. JAMA Netw Open. 2020; 3(3): e203976.

8.  Shen X, Zou X, Zhong X, Yan J, Li L. Psychological stress of ICU nurses in the time of COVID-19. Crit Care. 2020;24(1):200.

9.  American Psychological Association. COVID-19 information and resources. 2020.  https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19.

10.  American Psychiatric Nurses Association. COVID-19: Tips & resources for psychiatric-mental health nurses. 2020.  https://www.apna.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=6686.

11.  American Nurses Association. COVID-19 interview with Debbie Hatmaker on CNN. 2020. https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/work-environment/health-safety/disaster-preparedness/coronavirus/covid-19-interview-with-debbie-hatmaker-on-cnn.

12. Fox News. American nurses association launches relief fund amid coronavirus crisis.  2020. https://video.foxnews.com/v/6146381051001.

13. ABC News. Why this ICU nurse stood up to people protesting stay-at-home orders. 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/icu-nurse-stood-people-protesting-stay-home-orders/story?id=70554778.


Allana Marie Brown is a psychiatric NP at St. Vincent's Hospital Westchester in White Plains, NY. ​

Thursday, May 6, 2021

By Laura Dreissigacker Hooker, RN

We all know the buzzwords from the last year-plus. COVID-19, coronavirus, masks, social distancing, quarantine, remote learning, homeschooling, and the list goes on. I never, ever imagined using most of these words in my everyday life. Yet, here we are, with these being part of our everyday vocabulary.

I remember waking up during the few weeks after the first person in our small community tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. I was isolating with my identical twin sister Julia in my basement. We are both RNs on a surgical unit at a small hospital in northern New York, where we cut our teeth as new nurses fresh out of the nursing program at Clinton Community College. We have remained there for the past 19 years. We didn't want to expose our families to COVID-19 if we contracted it at work, so we chose to self-isolate. Julia was sharing a queen-size bed with me in that dark, cool room. Meanwhile, my family stayed upstairs to socially distance.

I remember one early morning when we both rolled over, looked at each other, and immediately started crying. We held each other close, hugging, sobbing, and commiserating. Between the tears, we uttered the question, “How is this our life right now?"

For those first 2 months of COVID-19, we wore masks around family members outside our household, especially our precious 90-year-old Gram. No hugs, no kisses, no normal. We prayed for a solution, cried for a miracle, and watched the news in despair and horror as the death toll and case numbers rose daily. With every addition of a new standard or restriction, we said, “How is this our life right now?"

In all the chaos surrounding our lives, love was our constant. No matter how unnerving the world around us was, I knew I had the love of my family to help get us all through. No matter how little toilet paper there was in the stores, no matter how crazy things got with restrictions, and social distancing, and mask wearing, and paranoia, there they were.

I had an exposure to a patient with COVID-19 at work when the pandemic was just starting to affect my community. I was under a county-mandated quarantine afterward. I wasn't worried about myself so much, but I was worried about my family. What if I brought this home to them? Are they washing their hands? Why are they coughing? Does my son feel hot? I felt like I was always on edge, constantly waiting for the coronavirus to infiltrate our little family. Luckily, I never contracted the virus, but the paranoia and the worry were enough to do one in.

Work was a continuous ebb and flow. Fortunately, we were very well staffed at our hospital and we were not overwhelmed with a large number of patients with COVID-19. We set up a COVID-19 section in our hospital and had staffing levels appropriate to the extra time and energy needed to care for these patients. It was stressful but manageable. Census dropped and personal protective equipment was monitored, sterilized if necessary, doled out, and used. Luckily, we had plenty of supplies, unlike many facilities downstate and across the country and the world. I remember thinking how lucky I was to have a job that was “essential." To have job security in these incredibly uncertain times was eye-opening. My sister, dad, aunts, uncles, and most of my immediate relatives all had essential jobs during the pandemic.

I remember thinking about my own kids and their futures. When they think about what they want to do for a career, I want them to remember that being an essential worker in the times of crisis brings money home and keeps food on your table. In my 41 years, never had I thought about that. I didn't want it to be lost on my kids.

As the months have gone on, our “new normal" is becoming easier, but it's far from perfect. I hate that my kids must stay home to learn their studies. I hate that I am still worried about people getting sick. I hate that I have masks hanging from my car shifter and hand sanitizer in every bag I own, but I will continue to do as required to keep my family, my community, and myself safe.

However, it has not all been so bad. I have never been closer to my family, both extended and immediate. My hands have never been cleaner, and my bank account has never been more flush due to missing our yearly vacation. At work I learned so much. Our hospital is a close-knit team, and we have all come together during these times. I am grateful for my life and my community. Here's to seeing the silver lining and realizing that yes, this really is our life right now, but it won't be forever.

 

Laura Dreissigacker Hooker is a medical/surgical clinical ladder 3 nurse at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, N.Y.

Monday, November 30, 2020

For many, the recent rise in COVID-19 cases has left the usual holiday celebrations in a state of limbo. With more than 61,000,000 cases globally and more than 12,000,000 in the US alone, the CDC issued new guidelines ahead of Thanksgiving and the remaining holiday season. Although challenging, increased isolation over the next few weeks may prove vital in curbing the spread of the virus, but there is additional good news on the horizon in the form of a potential vaccine.

In fact, November 2020 has seen promising results for three vaccine candidates. First, Pfizer and Biontech announced that their vaccine appeared to be 90% effective ahead of the conclusion of a phase III clinical trial. Upon its conclusion, the efficacy looks to be about 95%. A week later, Moderna announced similarly notable early results in one of its vaccines, with a 94.5% efficacy. Another domino soon fell, as AstraZeneca and Oxford University announced a third promising vaccine result. This final vaccine was 90% effective in one regimen consisting of a half-dose followed by a full dose a month later, and 62% effective in another regimen that consisted of two full doses separated by a month: a combined efficacy of 70%. It may also be less expensive and easier to store, as it does not require storage at freezing temperatures.      ​

Despite rising hope in the new vaccines, the world certainly is not out the woods yet regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the US is encouraging citizens to continue wearing masks in the meantime. Additionally, public expectations on a timeline for the widespread availability of any vaccine remain uncertain, as does individual willingness to take an initial vaccine in the US. With any luck, the push for continued isolation will help nurses and healthcare staff during their effort to combat the recent surges in cases, just as the news of a potential vaccine—much less three—is sure to help many of those struggling with isolation over the holidays.