Strength, perseverance, persistence, tenacity, backbone, fortitude, and grit are all synonyms for resilience.1 Perhaps “nurse” should be added to this list.
The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress.”2 Between March 15 and June 7—just 12 weeks—more than 1,920,000 cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and almost 110,000 COVID-19-related deaths were reported in the US.3
As other healthcare workers were removed from the bedside to limit exposure and the personal protective equipment (PPE) “burn rate” or total PPE consumption, critical care nurses continued battling COVID-19 head on with innovative new care delivery methods. We have provided emotional support to patients in the absence of their families. Sadly, these heroic efforts came at a personal cost to nurses. According to the CDC, more than 71,000 cases of and 371 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported among healthcare personnel in the US.3 Additionally, according to the International Council of Nurses, as of early June 2020 more than 600 nurses worldwide had died of COVID-19.4
During this pandemic, critical care nurses have experienced inadequacies in PPE supply chains, critical staffing shortages, psychological distress, and limitations in legislation and research. The responses to these challenges from individual nurses, our nursing leaders, professional organizations, health publishers, and other companies have been nothing shy of phenomenal.
We were able to close the gaps in clinical knowledge by taking advantage of the free education that was posted online almost immediately by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), the American Nurses Association (ANA), and Wolters Kluwer, just to name a few.5 Check out the latest COVID-19 tools and resources for clinicians here: www.nursingcenter.com/coronavirus.
Nurse leaders from the AACN, ANA, American Organization for Nursing Leadership, and other nursing organizations are currently advocating for the passage of new legislation involving PPE, expanded practice opportunities for advanced practice nurses, and funding resources for mental health services and hazard pay.6
As the curve flattens and the number of critical care patients who test positive for COVID-19 declines, we all need to pause and celebrate our profession. I am so proud of the brave critical care nurses battling this disease. Thank you all for your resilience.
AnneMarie Palatnik, DNP, RN, ACNS-BC
Assistant Vice President of Clinical Learning, Academic Affiliations, and Research Virtua Health, Mount Laurel, N.J.
2. American Psychological Association (APA). Building your resilience. 2012. www.apa.org/topics/resilience
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): cases in the U.S. 2020. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html
4. International Council of Nurses (ICN). More than 600 nurses die from COVID-19 worldwide. 2020. www.icn.ch/news/more-600-nurses-die-covid-19-worldwide