COVID-19 Will change the healthcare industry rapidly, and we need to be prepared to adapt
This pandemic has impacted our lives in a way that makes it difficult to anticipate the future. However, in the healthcare world, nurses and doctors have an idea as to how COVID-19 will change their working lives.
Based on current trends and input from healthcare workers, these are the 4 anticipated ways COVID-19 will change the working lives of doctors and nurses:
1. PPE Isn’t Going Anywhere
There is a patient who seems fine today, yet will begin to show symptoms of COVID-19 tomorrow. We have all heard similar stories like this one. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised great awareness as to how easily viruses can spread.
Healthcare workers are wearing personal protective equipment in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to themselves and others. One NYC nurse who is working the frontlines discloses that she believes she will be mandated to continue wearing at least a face mask in the months and years to come.
2. Connecting with Patients Will Require Creativity
Wearing a face mask throughout the workday doesn’t seem unreasonable, right? However, there are major drawbacks. First off, it is incredibly difficult for people hard of hearing to understand what you’re saying when wearing a mask. Face masks also prevent people from seeing your entire face, including your facial expressions.
People rely on facial expressions in order to understand what is being said. Non-verbal dialogue also helps us understand subtle information and we often seek validation through smiling and laughing. Many healthcare workers have used their creativity to find alternative ways to comfort patients despite not being able to show them their entire face.
Check out this doctor who taped a picture of themselves to their PPE in order to address this issue.
Mathias Schlögl MD, MPH and Christopher A. Jones MD, MBA discuss the working lives of doctors and nurses in the article “Maintaining Our Humanity Through the Mask: Mindful Communication During COVID ‐19.” In their paper they discuss how to interact with patients when wearing a mask so that quality care can still be provided.
The authors discuss how attending mindfully, behaving calmly, and communicating clearly are manageable steps that all healthcare workers can do during these times.
3. Everyone’s Health will Continue to Be Monitored
The working lives of doctors and nurses can vary depending on work location, setting, etc. However, the majority of healthcare organizations have implemented measures to monitor the health of their patients and staff that they were not doing before COVID-19.
One common measure includes taking the temperature of all staff members before they enter the facility. If your temperature is higher than normal, you are usually directed to get tested for COVID-19 and are not allowed to see patients until their results come in.
Another measure includes testing patients and staff for the virus every few days. This is not only a timely procedure but can be nerve-wracking. One NYC nurse points out that she believes these practices will continue but might slow down if and when a coronavirus vaccine is offered to the public.
4. Making Tough Decisions
Many healthcare workers have made the tough decision to isolate themselves away from their loved ones. However, with time passing, staying away from friends and families becomes more difficult.
To further complicated things, many states have uplifted or in the process or uplifting social distancing restrictions.
However, the working lives of doctors and nurses remain the same as people continue to become ill. Seeing loved ones return to their normal routines can be emotionally difficult.
Ultimately, doctors and nurses will have to decide how they want to move forward. As one NYC nurse describes it, this situation is a “moral crisis.” She further states this dilemma will lead to “a lot of mental health issues in the profession.”
It is difficult to predict how COVID-19 will continue shaping our lives. Are you a nurse or doctor who knows ways COVID-19 will change your working life? Comment below and share your thoughts!