It seems as though this is the most commonly asked phrase of 2020, and we’re only 5 months in. It’s absolutely wild how we’ve woken up to pure chaos the last couple months, and it hasn’t seemed to stop. From the pandemic to the fear-inducing media, to election season, and now the protests, rioting, and civil rights movement. No, this isn’t a dream, this is our new reality. So depending on who you ask “What’s next,” the answer may vary.
I can vividly remember when COVID first hit.
The anxiety, uncertainty, the fear, and restlessness were dense. Fast-forward to now, from nurses to stay at home parents, we’ve all found a new groove that has us feeling a bit more at ease in the uncertainty. Or maybe that’s just how I feel. I’m not nearly as nervous or fearful walking into my shift. However new questions now pop into my head. When’s the next spike? Are we prepared now more than before? Did anyone actually fix the PPE problem? And it goes. New studies are being published and more research is being done. In fact, I’m taking part in one.
I have progressively seen change in my Emergency Department, and I’m always curious about how other hospitals are doing. We now test every person who comes into my ED, with rapid tests for specific criteria. The number of staff in the room during a trauma or code has been tailored to minimize exposure. We are enforced to wear a surgical mask (at minimum) for our 12 hr shift. Overall, the change has been progressive. However, it’s hard to say what is next.
- Are the numbers of COVID decreasing, or do the tests remain semi- unreliable?
- Are the numbers of COVID increasing, or are we just testing more people?
- Will nurses begin to leave the profession due to stress and health concerns? There are so many factors to take into play.
What are nursing and healthcare going to look like?
I can’t help but wonder what nursing and healthcare are going to look like after this. The already overwhelmed and understaffed system. The stress, PTSD, and mental health of healthcare workers have already been at stake for years. What about our new grads? The job market was already hard enough; how are they finding work? When I think about it too much, it’s overwhelming. But when I reframe my mindset, I have hope! I have hope that we will continue to save lives, and I pray for the ones that have been lost. I have hope in the mental resilience of my fellow healthcare workers, that we will continue to care for the ones who need us most. I have hope that we will shine through the darkness because there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. However, we’ve still got a long way to go. It’s been eyeopening and humbling to see everything unfold.
Huge hats off to the pure resilience and hard work of all the frontline workers. It hasn’t gone unnoticed! Every day we continue to put on our scrubs, show up, and do what we do best; take care of the ones who need us most. So what is next? Well, I’m not really sure. For now, we will continue to fight the good fight, in the hopes that we will persevere and come out on top.