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Impact of COVID-19 on the Nursing Field

A person wearing a mask and other health-related gear

The COVID-19 crisis is having a devastating effect around the globe, with over 90 million reported cases to date. While new vaccines provide hope for the new year, we still see record levels of infections and hospitalizations. Nurses and nursing leadership teams heroically take on the challenges of the coronavirus every day, but the impact on the nursing field is significant.

The need for qualified nurses throughout the United States is higher than ever, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role that nurses and nursing leadership play in healthcare. Whether you are a potential nursing student, a practicing nurse looking to advance your career, or are considering a Masters in Nursing, this article will help you gain a better understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on the field of nursing.

Resilience at Work

While COVID-19 has challenged every aspect of the nursing profession, nurses continually demonstrate a remarkable degree of resilience. A recent study shows that nurses’ dedication to patient care increases during a pandemic. From front-line RNs caring for patients to informatics nurses working behind-the-scenes to optimize patient outcomes, nurses in every healthcare facility around the world have risen to the occasion and proven themselves as heroes of healthcare. Nursing leaders have also done an exceptional job supporting their staff during the pandemic with a wide range of safety precautions and training on maintaining mental and physical wellbeing.

The Rise of Telehealth

One of the major impacts of COVID-19 on the field of nursing is the growing importance of telehealth and nursing informatics. Due to the pandemic, there has been a significant relaxation of federal rules around telehealth, and virtual patient care is becoming the new normal.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a 154% increase in telehealth visits at the end of March 2020, compared with a year earlier. The CDC also credits telehealth with potentially reducing disease exposure for hospital staff and patients, preserving healthcare supplies, and reducing patient demand on facilities.

With both healthcare providers and patients turning to telemedicine and mHealth tools, including mobile apps and remote monitoring tools, nurse leaders are relying more heavily on the expertise from nursing informatics. Nurse informaticists play a vital role in implementing and optimizing technology to support the delivery of safe and effective virtual patient care with a focus on the efficient processing and analysis of healthcare data.

Impact on Nursing Students

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, nurses and nursing students have also seen a relaxation of state regulations for receiving a nursing license. While licensure laws vary by state, the majority of states have activated emergency-response licensure laws that allow nurses to come in from other states without being required to have a state-specific nursing license.

For prospective students, many nursing programs are now offering a range of online and virtual classes. Top-tier nursing schools incorporate innovative simulation software and collaborative learning applications into their distance learning programs to help ensure nurses are prepared to provide high levels of care to the communities they serve. The University of Michigan’s online MSN in Nursing in Leadership, Analytics and Innovation prepares students for the future of nursing as the healthcare industry continues to evolve due to COVID-19.