In late 2019, healthcare organizations around the world were preparing to celebrate the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife,” a title that had been designated by the World Health Organization in honor of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightengale. According to WHO, the campaign was first launched in 2017 to “globally improve health by raising the status of nursing.”
Those plans, however, were put on hold when Covid-19 hit. Instead of being recognized for their efforts, nurses were dealing with unprecedented patient surges as hospitals struggled to provide adequate equipment to protect against the virus. As a result, many nurses reported “feelings of job-related burnout, anxiety, depression, and fear due to the workflow and the risks of the pandemic.” Even worse, a CDC report in October of 2020 found that nurses had the highest rate of Covid-19 hospitalizations (36 percent) among healthcare personnel.
And yet, nurses persisted, going above and beyond to provide compassionate care when it was needed most.
“The message is clearer than ever,” said Emilia Clarke, a Nursing Now ambassador who was working on a film for International Nurses’ Day when Covid forced production to shut down. “We need nurses and midwives, now and in the future to ensure access to health for everyone, everywhere.”
With National Nurses Week (May 6-12) approaching, healthsystemCIO.com asked a few leaders to reflect on how nursing helped shape their careers, the tireless efforts nurses have put forth during Covid, and how the profession has evolved.
“The power of what nurse culture can do”
Starting with Florence Nightingale, nursing history has been built on innovation. There is no more important time to empower our nurses to innovate and generate new clinical care models supported by technology to address the shrinking workforce and the increasing patient needs. We have all seen the power of what the nurse culture can do during the pandemic. I feel honored to have the ability to serve our nurses and represent the nursing voice by enabling care through technology.
-Terri Couts, RN-BC, MHA, SVP & CIO, SVP and CIO at The Guthrie Clinic
“The need for caring & compassionate people”
Even though I am a CIO today and have long left the ranks as a direct caregiver, I still leverage my nursing experiences almost daily. The ability to understand care delivery and how a technology solution may impact that workflow has been immeasurably valuable to me. Nurses are rockstars. They deliver care, juggle the complexities of managing family and care team expectations, and quarterback the patient experience, all while subsequently spending the lion’s share of time in the EHR.
Covid only added another layer of complexity on top of this. The delivery of new tools and technology has automated many of the manual nursing duties of the past — what hasn’t changed is the need for caring and compassionate people to continue to serve patients and their families.”
-Dan Howard, CIO, San Ysidro Health
“The catalysts who lead breakthrough innovations”
Healthcare and nursing are in a precarious time. The population continues to age. Nurses are retiring and leaving the profession at unprecedented rates. The COVID-19 pandemic surpassed its two-year anniversary. Clinical decisions are being supported by artificial intelligence and new models of care are introduced every day. The future of healthcare and nursing is an ocean of unknowns; because of this, the next generations are needed more now than ever. Whatever future is on the horizon, nurses will be the catalysts who lead breakthrough innovations. Take this week to reflect and celebrate all your individual and team wins and also to dream about the future we (nurses) can build.
-Brian Weirich, DHA, MHA, RN, CENP, Chief Nursing Officer, Banner Thunderbird Hospital
“Treasure the profession”
Nursing is a profession that has always focused on our patients: on working with the patient and their support systems to reach the best outcome possible. As a clinical informaticist, I have been privileged to combine our clinical knowledge, intuitive skills, data aggregation/utilization, and technology to lead our practices to improve care.
The future of nursing has been challenged by a pandemic that created an incredibly demanding and sometimes disillusioning care environment. Today, nurses need to join together and use the power of human support as well as data interpretation to ensure that we come out of the pandemic better, stronger, smarter, and committed to each other and our patients. Be proud, be strong, and treasure the profession we have chosen.
-Liz Johnson, Chair, CHIME Education Foundation and Vice Chair, Policy Steering Committee (and former CIO, Acute Care Hospitals & Clinical Informatics, Tenet Healthcare)
“I love being a nurse”
My experience as a nurse is what drives me as an IT executive. Having worked many hours in a busy ER, I know that technology does make a difference. Our ability to provide tools that reduce charting, improve accuracy of care plans, and decrease patient wait times really do make a difference. I love being a nurse.
-Chris Walden, MHA, BSN, VP of IT, Acute and Physician Practices, Tenet Healthcare
“Entrepreneurs in nursing give me hope”
As I look to the challenges and opportunities ahead, it is the entrepreneurs and innovators in nursing that give me the greatest hope – for our fellow clinicians, for our patients, and for us all.
-Becky Fox, VP & CNIO, Atrium Health
Thank you to those who contributed to this piece, and thank you to all nurses!
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