2. Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
3. Department of Surgery, Boston Medical Center, Boston University Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Background: Nurses are essential for caring for patients during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our objective was to explore the perspectives of nurses regarding their COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and determine areas for improvement.
Methods: An anonymous web-based survey was distributed between April 24 and May 3, 2020to 127 nurses working in medical/surgical floors at a medium size hospital in the Northeast region of the USA.
Results: A total of 79 of 127 nurses participated in our survey (62.2% response rate). The most significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our respondents’ personal/family life was the concern about infecting family members with COVID-19, followed by increased stress and anxiety; lack of childcare; reduced social activities; inability to visit parents or close family members; self-isolation from family; difficulties balancing pandemic work with family dynamics; inability to care for elderly parents; fear of getting infected with COVID-19; and financial worries.
In the workplace, nurses reported increased stress and anxiety, constantly-changing instructions, fear of getting infected with COVID-19, increased workload, inadequate preparedness, lack of appreciation from leadership, and lack of proper training for redeployment.
When considering how to improve the experience of nurses for future pandemics, the most important lesson identified by our survey participants from this COVID-19 response was a better overall pandemic preparedness, followed by improved communication; adequate cross-training for deployment in different units; education on inter-professional teamwork; better support and appreciation from leadership; including nursing input on preparedness plans; maintain social distancing at all times; mental health support; considering everyone infected until testing proves otherwise; and encouraging staff to not come to work when sick.
Conclusion: Our study shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted nurses both professionally and personally. Nursing and hospital leadership should facilitate nurses’ input on developing solutions to meet their needs both during and after crisis scenarios.
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; emergency preparedness; nurse wellness; nursing education