Pandemics are widespread infectious diseases that can affect populations in any country. They are often caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites that spread to humans from other species.
Sometimes pandemics begin as local outbreaks, but the illness quickly spreads to other places outside of the region. These outbreaks can be identified and controlled with public health measures such as vaccines, antivirals and quarantine.
Nurses have had to take on more tasks than ever before due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This article will cover some of the most famous pandemics and what they did to our planet, and will highlight how the coronavirus pandemic has led to the evolution of the nursing role.
What is a pandemic?
A pandemic is a disease outbreak prevalent over a whole country or the world. It is a public health emergency triggered by the rapid spread of disease to humans.
A pandemic can also be when someone has been infected with a zoonotic pathogen that spreads between animals and humans.
In most cases, the goal is to achieve containment until an effective vaccine can be developed and produced. If a new strain of the virus is discovered in the wild, the first step is to design a vaccine using reverse genetics.
A pandemic has substantial impacts on economies as well as on families and communities. Mass vaccination of healthy adults against the disease is essential to control a significant pandemic situation, but it will only be successful with community involvement.
Organizations will significantly facilitate international response to a pandemic if countries follow World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for the implementation of national plans for pandemic preparedness and response.
A telehealth nurse practitioner provides primary and acute care remotely with the assistance of technology. This has many benefits, including diagnosing and providing treatment without in-person visits, a higher degree of confidentiality, and secure communication. It also assists in remote admission, where there is streamlined booking and scheduling.
Universities such as Carson-Newman University empower working nurses to lead the way in healthcare as FNPs. Through the online MSN-FNP program or Post-Master’s FNP Certificate, you can study online and continue working full-time to further your career and become an accomplished telehealth nurse practitioner.
Examples of pandemics
Below are some examples of pandemics:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic causes fever, muscle pains, bleeding from the nose and eyes, diarrhea, vomiting blood, and pneumonia. It’s a very virulent strain of CoV that could be fatal for those not taking precautions.
One of the most devastating aspects of this disease is its ability to spread quickly through contact with bodily fluids such as saliva or sweat.
- Cholera pandemic
Cholera is a diarrheal infection caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae. The human condition almost always occurs through food and water contaminated with the bacterium.
Today, most cases of cholera are asymptomatic, and many go unreported, but in the past, it was a common cause of death.
- Ebola pandemic
Ebola is a viral disease that causes fever, vomiting and diarrhea. It’s contracted by contacting body fluids from an infected individual or their remains. Ebola’s symptoms appear anywhere from two to 21 days after infection and can lead to death.
- Spanish flu pandemic
This was one of the most deadly pandemics in history. This strain was a highly virulent virus that caused pneumonia-like symptoms, but had never been seen before.
The Spanish flu was deadly because its A and B genes were distantly related to avian influenza viruses, but it didn’t appear to be caused by any known animal virus.
- HIV/AIDS pandemic
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a type of virus that infects and destroys healthy body cells. HIV can be transmitted through blood or blood products, breast milk, semen or vaginal fluids. The virus weakens your immune system by destroying an essential type of white cell called CD4.
AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. This is when the infection has severely damaged the immune system to the point where it cannot fight off other diseases as well as it should. Once you have AIDS, you may have persistent flu-like symptoms such as fever or night sweats and chronic diarrhea.
- Antonine plague
Antonine plague symptoms included fever, headache and a lack of appetite. Occurring from 165 to 180 AD, it devastated the Roman Empire and eventually led to a death toll of about 5 million people.
Antonine plague is one of the deadliest diseases known to humanity. It is thought that the disease was spread through rats and fleas.
The role of nurses during a pandemic
Nurses play a central and pivotal role during a pandemic. Given the scope of their responsibility and expertise, nurses can help ensure that many of the consequences of a pandemic are prevented. Here are some of the roles played by nurses during a pandemic.
During the pandemic, nurses enforce sanitation. It is vital to enforce sanitation when outbreaks can happen anywhere and anytime.
Nurses are responsible for educating families on protecting themselves from the virus. They should be wearing the appropriate apparel for protection.
During the pandemic, nurses work overtime to cover for the absenteeism of nurses. Working overtime is expected in the workplace, especially for working professionals.
Overtime is necessary for certain situations, but should be limited to avoiding risks associated with further health problems while ensuring productivity. Nurses must also take time before and after these periods to rest so that they can recover from these extended hours.
Spreading knowledge and awareness
During the pandemic, nurses spread knowledge and awareness to the public through posters, flyers and public announcements. Education can significantly mitigate the crisis by maximizing awareness of risk factors and protective measures when appropriate.
Education is one of the most important ways to protect communities from infectious disease emergencies.
There are many ways to spread knowledge and awareness of an infectious disease outbreak.
Managing medical supplies and equipment
During a pandemic, managing medical supplies and equipment management is critical. Medical equipment and supplies are essential to providing quality healthcare, but there is always the risk that hospitals might run out of essential items such as gloves.
When an infection such as swine flu reaches high levels, the number of patients needing care and laboratory testing increases. The equipment for testing must be available when this happens.
Ways that nursing has evolved post-COVID-19
Nursing has undergone significant changes in recent years with the global COVID-19 pandemic. These are some of the ways that it has evolved post-pandemic.
Increased demand for nurses
With the pandemic, many people are clamoring for vaccinations that only nurses can administer. As a result, more nurses are needed to assist with these shots and to educate patients on the danger of this virus.
Hospitals need qualified individuals to work long hours in stressful situations, and the profession is rewarding financially. With the high demand for nurses, there is high demand for application materials and great pay.
Nurses work long hours throughout the day and night and are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For this reason, facilities must adequately educate nurses to perform their duties at the highest possible level of proficiency. A registered nurse is essential to the healthcare environment and will be even more so in times of crisis such as a pandemic.
Flexibility and opportunities for leadership
Nurses are breaking out of the traditional nursing role and adjusting to new demands by providing more patient care. Nurses can now offer their services in hospitals, ambulatory clinics, retirement homes, physician offices or home settings.
Nurses who have expanded their skills through programs such as clinical nurse specialist training are becoming leaders for a team of physicians and other providers. These nurses can strategize how the health system will meet that region’s current and future needs for healthcare.
On the other hand, nurses are finding opportunities to form entities such as independent home healthcare agencies and care centers that offer services in their communities. It allows them to have more control over the quality of their services and professional development. Nurses are also seeing growth in direct patient care managed by nurses in-house.
For nurses to develop into leaders in this industry, hospital administrators must introduce these leadership opportunities. Other nursing schools must offer training programs that prepare nurses for leadership roles. Lastly, institutions should work with nurse leaders to support moving into fully fledged management positions.
Looking toward the future
Nurses are in a unique position to create an improved healthcare system. Proportionally, more nurses died than any other profession during the pandemic.
Many have already relocated from regions of the country with low employment to areas with better economies and higher employment rates. With the addition of new jobs to nursing, many new students are expected to be attracted to the nursing field in the coming years.
Some experts predict that there will be a shortage of registered nurses within a few years. It has even been suggested that there will soon be shortages of LPNs and CNAs.
In response to these predictions and projections, nursing schools have begun changing their programs to keep up with these job market changes. Some schools have added more classes, including courses on infectious disease and epidemiology, while others have added new facilities such as laboratories and lecture halls.
Implementation and use of technology
Nurses are now implementing and using technology post-pandemic because of the increase in wearable devices. This new technology has taken over the healthcare industry, and nurses are not immune to its effects.
As a result, many nurses have been searching for ways to correctly implement this new technology into their practice. However, there continues to be some concerns about how this could change how patients view their personal care and privacy. Studies have shown that these concerns are unfounded because it is still unclear what advancements will happen in the future with this type of technology.
However, most importantly, when implementing these devices into our practices as nurses, we must maintain anonymity and confidentiality with all of our patient data. As technology advances, nurses must push themselves to create new ways to implement technology. It will allow them to provide the highest level of care and provide information better.
One prominent example is the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The American Nurses Association initially banned this machine because of the concern that it may interfere with a patient’s ability to breathe.
In recent years, however, nurses have been pushing for more research on CPAP machines. Many believe that this device is beneficial for patients experiencing sleep apnea – a side effect of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
There is a lot of potential for data analytics to improve healthcare in the US with its big data and predictive analysis abilities. However, healthcare facilities must address many challenges before this can be a reality.
The first challenge is the need for more proficiency in data analytics among providers, even those in other healthcare sectors, such as primary care physicians and nurses. Even when technology advances rapidly, patients have more access to their medical records than ever before via electronic medical records (EMRs).
COVID-19 has inspired some nurses to move into specialty roles
The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged some nurses to move into specialty roles within their hospitals. For example, COVID-19 nurses are now involved in improving patient outcomes.
A group of ICU nurses founded a COVID-19 initiative aiming to reduce the number of deaths among ICU patients and increase patient satisfaction.
Healthcare organizations do this by implementing an improved medication management process. As a result, the COVID-19 initiative has gone from an idea that some nurses were talking about to an initiative that every nurse at their hospital is now involved with.
Nurses are often on the frontline of care for patients and their families, and many are juggling more tasks than ever. As a result, nurses are looking for opportunities to become more involved in their work.
One of the main reasons why nurses get involved in COVID-19 initiatives is because they want to make a difference. They believe that these initiatives will improve patient care and even save lives.
Nurses are getting the credit they deserve
Nurses are finally publicly getting the credit they deserve after the COVID-19 pandemic. It is essential because a nurse at the hospital is vital in order to get specific tasks done faster and better.
Nurses can put patients on sedatives, do physical therapy exercises, or give a flu shot if needed. Nurses also do some procedures that are not usually done by doctors, such as starting IVs, doing EKGs, and giving shots. They may also develop a plan for treating patients with long-term diseases.
The COVID-19 pandemic has slowly and steadily evolved the nursing profession by providing nurses with new diseases, challenges and information to contend with. We cannot ignore this in the face of such an enormous crisis.
Nurses have also been challenged to redefine their roles and profession, with many patients requiring extra care. The most effective change that has resulted so far is social media awareness.
This has allowed people to become more engaged with their health, disease prevention, and others involved in this nursing field. It has made it easier for nurses to track diseases across borders, and to learn about outbreaks before they are too late.
The most helpful thing that we can do as nurses is to be aware of the world around us. With the emergence of social media and blogs, it’s easier than ever to find statistics, information about diseases, and stories about patients. It’s also easier to stay connected to like-minded people across borders. By looking out for each other, we can ensure that the nursing profession stays on top of current technology and trends.