Int. Nurses Day: ‘It is incumbent on us to look forward and shape the future’

Today, May 12th, is International Nurses Day and to celebrate, Dr Catherine Marchand, Co-Director of Kent Business School’s MSc in Healthcare Management and research fellow Research Fellow Stuart Jeffery reflect on the impact of Covid on the nursing industry and how the sector requires strong leadership to make positive steps back to normality…

‘As we start to recover from the worst pandemic in a century, we can now see clearly the physical and psychological impact Covid has had on us, as individuals and as a society. Perhaps the most prominent of those impacts have been on health and social care professionals, repeatedly witnessing patients, colleagues, friends and family suffering and dying. The physical impact continues today with some of us suffering with long Covid.

‘However, as we emerge from the pandemic, there is an underlying sense of hope for the future, even if the vision of the future is not yet clear.

A survey of over 3,500 nurses by the Nursing Times found that 87% felt more stressed at work than before the pandemic, 90% were more anxious than before the pandemic and 33% felt their mental health and well-being is bad. Amongst other variables catching the virus and the lack of PPE increased anxiety level by 79% and 53% respectively.

‘All health and social professionals have endured an emotional burden of providing psychological and emotional support to patients while families could not visit, fear of catching COVID-19, grief over their colleagues, patients and loved ones who died during the pandemic, and the fear of transmitting to others. Hopefully, much of that is in the past and now it is incumbent on us to look forward and shape the future.

“Hard-fought successes”

‘What hope can there be at this time? The hope lies in the hard-fought successes of yesterday, battled by health professionals internationally, whilst learning the hardest lessons to help improve tomorrow for professionals, patients and the public.

‘Helping to shape that future requires skills and understanding, leadership and vision from professionals able handle the trauma of the past while building resilience for the future.

‘Management and leadership are essential for this. The ability, skills and knowledge to exercise control and inspire others helps us build for a better future and to recover as individuals. Feeling in control over our lives and having agency are essential aspects of positive mental health.

‘Those skills are taught and learned, as they always have been, by those that were there. Learning is a lifelong pursuit and medical educators have a vital part to play in helping you gain these crucial skills for the benefit of all. Healthcare management is about learning how to inspire, to have agency, to understand the world and its politics. The knowledge of the risks, and understanding the challenges and the solutions means that we can influence that future.’

Want to take leadership in a health or social care setting? Read more about our MSc Healthcare Management.

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