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Nerve Racked Nurses During the Ebola crisis

Nurses Disasters Article   posted

Specializes in MENTAL HEALTH, EDUCATION,ADMINISTRATION.

Even the most experienced, prepared nurse can feel tension and stress when severe crisis such as the Ebola outbreak strikes. Facilities must take quick actions to ensure that the proper plans and resources are in place to protect nurses. When faced with high stress situations and unsafe working conditions, loyalties can be tested. Nurses must form strong unions amongst themselves and advocate for ways organizations can better help them to help others.

Nerve Racked Nurses During the Ebola crisis
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Nursing has always been known as a selfless profession. Those who decide to delve into the jungle of chaotic madness know that there are no real guarantees. Your day at work will be only as good as it can be at any given time depending on a variety of factors. Are you prepared? If so what does that mean? Do you have the skills necessary to assess the patient in the triage room down the hall? Are you geared up to battle any organisms you might encounter? Do you have knowledge and quick wit on your side when their time is running out? Will you leave emotions and fear at home and embrace practicality and protocol? For many nurses the recent Ebola crisis has left them questioning their loyalty to their profession, feeling discouraged by their organizations, and scared for their loved ones.

A few weeks ago my 13 year old son called me at work to alert me that he had just read on the internet that it had finally happened: Ebola had caused the first Zombie Outbreak! He further went on to comment how he was happy I was safe at my hospital. After educating and reassuring him that there indeed was not a Zombie apocalypse occurring, I hung up with my son. It is then that a thought struck me. Was I safe at my hospital? Did I have the proper knowledge or equipment to assess and treat potential Ebola patients? What would I do in this situation? Knowing that like many hospitals at that particular time mine did not have an exact protocol yet for the Ebola outbreak, I quickly attempted to come up with a haphazard plan of what I may do. At the end of my 10 minute brainstorm I had produced quite a lot of anxiety and stress within myself.

The results of recent surveys show that over 85% of nurses are still waiting to be properly trained to meet the needs of the Ebola crisis. Lack of communication related to facility policies, insufficient and /or improper supplies for personal protection, and ill equipped environments/ isolation concerns have left nurses without the necessary armor and ammunition to combat this terrifying outbreak.

In light of the inadequate resources that nurses have been faced with, high levels of tension and fear continue to build. For some nurses it may be as minor as slight apprehension or second guessing their current level of safety in clinical practice. For others the scarcity of consistent information and a secure game plan, set forth by their facility, has caused them to experience emotional distress.

Loyalty not only to their workplaces but also the commitment to above all care for our patients first has been tested. Nurses have gone public to voice physical concerns such as acute anxiety/panic reactions as well as chronic appetite and sleep changes/nightmares. Fatigue, lack of concentration, and changes in mood or temperament, were also likely to be common symptoms among those nurses feeling overwhelmed by the current Ebola crisis.

What do our nurses need? Besides education and resources in the workplace, support by administration and colleagues is a must. Crisis Debriefing amongst workgroups is crucial. On site stress relief programs should be implemented to assist nurses in resolving any negative stress response and promoting positive work /life behaviors. Services such as Employee Assistance Programs must be made available to nurses that may develop more complicated/chronic symptoms. Support of Nurse Unions and Organizations is vital to the long term success of nurses staying positive and healthy during this and other similar catastrophic situations.

Nurses need to be advocates for themselves and each other. Be cognizant of the signs of increased stress amongst co-workers and the steps you can take to help. It is often in these times that nurses are looked past, and it is assumed that they will forge on unaffected. It becomes so easy to forget that they too are along for the ride. Flight attendants have long told us to put the oxygen on ourselves before attempting to save anyone. The next time you are running for a tank, remember to take a few breaths or liters for yourself.

Even the most experienced, prepared nurse can feel tension and stress when severe crisis such as the Ebola outbreak strikes. Facilities must take quick actions to ensure that the proper plans and resources are in place to protect nurses. When faced with high stress situations and unsafe working conditions, loyalties can be tested. Nurses must form strong unions amongst themselves and advocate for ways organizations can better help them to help others.


References

cdc.gov

nationalnursesunited.org

washingtonpost.com

Transgender is the general term used when referring to people who identify with a different gender than what they were assigned at birth. Transgender patients should be able to access healthcare without fear or ridicule. Barriers to care exist in all environments and need to be broken efficiently. It is extremely important to educate yourself and others within your workplace in an effort to create safe, inclusive, patient centered care facilities. In addition, ensure that environments are welcoming to the LGBTQ/transgender community. By advocating for the individual needs of our patients we can continue to strive for quality outcomes for everyone.

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