Health officials on local, state, and federal levels are monitoring the on-going outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on a continuous basis and responding to the situation as it evolves. There are cases across the globe as well as throughout the United States. Although the Coronavirus itself is not a new disease and there are actually several strains of the virus capable of causing respiratory symptoms or the common cold in humans, COVID-19 is a novel strain of the disease that was not discovered until 2019.
The Impact of Coronavirus on Nursing
The global implications on the nursing industry that COVID-19 will have are not yet known though what is clear is that an already very serious nursing shortage is more likely to become worse before it becomes better given the circumstances. When it comes to the current nursing industry, some things to consider are:
- Many medical facilities may need to put out calls for additional staff to support their needs if they have patients who are at risk for contracting COVID-19, or patients who have already contracted COVID-19,
- Many medical facilities may experiences shortages in nurses as their employees themselves become infected with COVID-19 or otherwise have to become quarantined due to increased risk of infection,
- The fact that an increasing amount of resources must be devoted to the fight against COVID-19 may mean one of two things. It may mean an increase in job opportunities because emergency medical professionals have to devote their energy toward COVID-19. On the other hand, it may mean a job shortage across the board simply because there are not enough nurses to devote to either cause.
What is most troubling about the situation is that medical facilities must find a way to keep their nurses safe while maintaining the current workforce amidst this Coronavirus pandemic. If nurses and other medical professionals begin to contract the disease from patients, amidst an already clear shortage, then the problem will become even more severe.
National Nurses United has noted that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, does not have an emergency standard for infectious diseases. Although nurses are confident of their capabilities to care for patients with COVID-19, many surveyed have indicated that their workplaces are not prepared for the coming onslaught of sick patients according to a survey by NNU conducted on March 3, 2020.
Nothing can be certain yet as it pertains to the nursing job market and the future of COVID-19. What is clear is that it will be essential for employers in the medical field to prepare their nurses as much as possible for this pandemic to ensure that the nursing shortage does not become more severe, as well as to divert energy, supplies, and talent to the fight against COVID-19 before it becomes a more significant threat than it already is.