America’s nurses were ill-prepared for the coronavirus pandemic and work needs to start now to get them ready for the next emergency, a new report concluded.
Many nurses lacked the right training to deal with the onslaught of patients and were not given the support they needed to do their jobs well, the team at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security found.
The report cites a survey by the American Nurses Association found that only 11% of nurses felt that they were well prepared to care for a patient with Covid-19. It found that 87% of nurses feared going to work and 36% of nurses had cared for an infectious patient without sufficient protective equipment.
“Nurses have played and will continue to play a pivotal role in the response, yet compelling evidence from nurses in the field reveals a lack of access to personal protective equipment; inadequate knowledge and skills related to pandemic response; a lack of decision rights as they relate to workflow redesign, staffing decisions, and allocation of scarce resources; and a fundamental disconnect between frontline nurses and nurse executives and hospital administrators,” they wrote.
“Developing a national nursing workforce response for pandemic and public health emergencies will improve quality of care, help contain the emergency, and protect the health of nurses and other providers, patients, families, and community members.”
Recommendations include providing immediate coronavirus testing for all health care workers, including nurses, the team, led by Center director Dr. Tom Inglesby, said.
The team also suggested that the US Department of Health and Human Services develop a plan for ways that nurses can train to take on crucial pandemic roles, such as in dispensing medical supplies.
Nursing education also needs to change, adding training for nurses on pandemic preparedness as a specific requirement, the team recommended. And the government should fund training for the current nursing workforce to prepare them for emergencies such as pandemics.