The pandemic created a whole new normal for all of us. Like our doctors and nurses, those fighting in the front lines had to make adjustments to care for sick patients. Nurses, in particular, are dealing with much bigger responsibilities when it comes to handling, managing, and assisting individuals affected with Covid-19. Juggling family life, work, and personal changes, the stresses nurses face can take a toll on one’s physical and mental well-being. But how do nurses manage to balance their personal life and work? What are the responsibilities of nurses during this pandemic? We got the answers you need.
The Roles and Responsibilities of Nurses During Pandemic
The year 2020 was declared as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization. It is in honor of the 200th year of Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Organizations, health care systems, professional associations, and other health facilities worldwide joined forces to celebrate the essential roles of nurses in promoting health and wellness to people all over the world. However, in the same year, the strength of the nursing workforce was tested by the outbreak of the coronavirus. 
With the pandemic still affecting people, nurses have a unique role in caring for sick people. Often, nurses go out of their way to help and protect those affected by the disease. That is why it is vital to know the roles and responsibilities of nurses during the pandemic to understand how they work and what they can do to help others.  Their duties include:
- Ensure that all patients have access to personalized, high-quality services regardless of their infectious condition.
- Creates a plan for anticipated Covid-19 related outbreaks to avoid system overloading.
- Keep and maintain ample amounts of supply and sanitation materials and personal protective equipment.
- Offers screening information, triage protocols, and confinement guidelines.
- They provide public education and teaching about the symptoms of Covid-19 and proper sanitation for disease prevention.
- Educate patients and the general public on how to stay healthy and prevent the spread of the virus.
- Teaches how to properly wash hands, the importance of social distancing, and sanitation.
- Nurses must also protect themselves the way they do with patients. They must also follow infection procedures and wear protective gear in their practice settings, such as masks, robes, eye cover, gloves, face shields, and ventilation masks.
- They also help deliver public awareness about disease prevention and decrease the dissemination of myths regarding the pandemic.
How the Stresses of Nurses Increased During Covid-19
As a nurse, you must know how to protect yourself from the coronavirus. Knowing what to do in stressful situations like the pandemic can help you avoid the following:
- Risk for infections – nurses work on the front lines, so it is unavoidable for things to get messy. Along with other health care workers, nurses assume the risk of getting infected by the disease. It is a given possibility that they can be exposed to the virus even when they are following safety procedures and guidelines. That said, nurses should exercise caution to avoid exposing their loved ones to this disease.
- Risk for burnouts – it is a fact that many nurses today are working longer shifts than usual ever since the pandemic hit. These long shifts added to the stressful environment at the workplace will eventually take a toll on nurses. Feelings of exhaustion and burnout are common among nurses. It is why nurses need to take care of their health and protect themselves both psychologically and physically.
What Can You Do?
As nurses, you cannot avoid the stress at work, but you can control how you react. It is also essential that you take care of yourself to function better and do your part in taking care of patients. So what can you do to avoid the stresses nurses face? Here’s how:
1. Practice self-care helps ease the stresses of nurses
Self-care means doing something for yourself to manage your stress. It could be as little as getting ice cream on your breaks or treating yourself to a nice warm bath after a long, hard day at work. So for nurses who are working hard in this pandemic, looking after yourself is non-negotiable! Make sure to have time to look after your mental and physical health, or you won’t be able to take care of other people.
2. Take a break
Taking a break means, have the intention to break away from stress. If you find yourself overworked for the past weeks, make time to break away. Go to a day of spa, sleep in over the weekend, or go on a road trip! Breaking away from a stressful workplace is also a way of taking care of yourself. It would help if you had time to decompress, or you will burn out.
Working as a nurse often requires being on your feet. You must be physically fit, especially when faced with emergencies. Exercising should be a part of your daily routine. It will help elevate your mood and give you energy throughout the day.
4. Eating well can help the stresses nurses face
There will be times when you need to work even on your lunch breaks but take this to heart, don’t skip meals! Please make time to eat your meals; it will give you energy too. Although it is tempting to work on lunch breaks, don’t give in. Separating work from lunchtime is essential. It will also help you recharge so you can work onwards.
5. Have a support team
Working as a nurse during the pandemic is exhausting. You cannot avoid feelings of fatigue and exhaustion. Longer shifts and the increasing number of patients can wear you down. At times like this, your support team can help you the most. If you’re single, having friends you can reach out to can help, and if you’re married, your spouse, children, and loved ones who are there for you can make a real difference. Make sure that you have people in your corner who love and support you during these trying times. It’s good for your well-being!
6. Talk to a Therapist
If you are a nurse and you feel the stresses nurses face, it can make you emotionally drained and struggle to work. The best way to survive this is to reach out to your lifelines. You might consider talking to a therapist/counselor or get access to an employee assistance program. While working as a nurse has plenty of memorable experiences, the workload can be toxic sometimes. Talking to someone can help lighten your load if it gets too much to bear.
7. Take time to reflect on yourself
When nothing works right, pause and reflect on yourself; take time to step back and look at where you are. Remind yourself of your achievements. Remind yourself of your skills and strengths – have a pep talk with yourself! No matter how things go or where you are at the moment, celebrate your victories. Take time to embrace yourself and be open to possibilities. Life is like that sometimes, but wherever you are, always look back to moments like this. It will help you stay hopeful of the future.
The Stresses of Nurses During Pandemic Can Be Handled
Being a nurse during the pandemic is tiresome, no doubt! But regardless of what’s going on, you must know how to take care of yourself. The pandemic may not go away quickly, and the stresses nurses face could worsen in the future. Despite all that, always remember to take a step back to know where you are and how you feel. Knowing how to handle your stress can help you improve as a nurse. Self-awareness is key to a productive nursing career!