Many people are asking when will life return to the way it was before COVID-19. Spoiler alert: It won’t. After World War II, people wanted to forget the hardships of the past decade and tried to go back to the way things were, or believed should be, only to find the world and themselves forever changed. History has a tendency to repeat itself. Life post-COVID will change lots of things, especially nursing. The Final StrawNursing has always had problems, from chronic short-staffing to disagreeable patients and family members to management fussing over petty details, just to name a few. For many nurses, COVID is the final straw. This pandemic is burning both ends of the candle too quickly for too many bedside nurses, having to enter a COVID patient’s room without proper equipment and even becoming sick with COVID themselves. As of writing, eight of my co-workers are sick with COVID, those who are not on a ventilator are likely asking themselves some very tough questions: Did I accidentally give COVID to my loved ones? Will I make it through this pandemic intact? Why did I become a nurse in the first place? Will I stay at the bedside when this is over?To Stay or Not to Stay at the BedsideEven if they aren’t sick, many nurses are beginning to seriously question whether or not they will remain at the bedside. I predict an exodus of bedside nurses, at least 20% if not more, during and after COVID. The treats and notes from the public are appreciated, as are the compliments from administration, but for many, it is too little, too late. But that doesn’t mean nobody will be left to care at the bedside. A lot of brand new nurses, particularly those who have lost their jobs due to COVID, will enter the workforce. They will have been told nursing provides guaranteed employment and a decent salary and is a promising career in general. They may have been warned of the incredible difficulties, or they may have not. A lot will just be glad to have a job and not worry about losing their homes or their children going hungry. Whatever their knowledge, whatever their reasons, it is up to the experienced nurses to guide the next generation. Better Equipped Those at the bedside after COVID will be better equipped. Masks, gowns, gloves, and Clorox wipes will be better stocked in case another pandemic occurs. Post-9/11, airport security heightened and has remained this way, the same will be for hospitals. They will be a lot pickier about who comes in, likely still taking temperatures and limiting visitors (this can be a good thing!). Administration will learn from the post-COVID exodus of nurses and will do more to make nurses’ jobs easier, such as setting clear boundaries for unacceptable behavior from patients (of sound mind) and family members. I believe they will make more of an effort to staff their nurses fairly, but it is a budgeting issue and hospitals technically are a business, this will require quite a lot of work. Maybe administration and the public will be more appreciative of what those on the front lines do, how we put our own health and well-being on the line for the sake of others. Greater Variety of Job OpportunitiesNursing will have more variety of job opportunities. Burned-out nurses will be (and most likely already are) looking for opportunities away from the bedside, even creating them. They are making face masks, building businesses for nurse products on Etsy, blogging about nursing, and writing articles. As nurses, we wear many hats. We are not only healers, but we are also teachers, counselors to patients and family members, mentors to nurses learning the ropes, innovators (how many times has a piece of equipment went missing or malfunctioned and you had to be creative with what you had?) and leaders. We are StrongWe are strong. We are adaptive. We are resilient. We are capable of so much more than we think. Borrowing from the Marine Corps mantra: we improvise, we adapt, and we overcome. Things cannot go back to the way they were, and judging from the past difficulties, we shouldn’t want them to. The best we can do is move forward. There are better times ahead. The best is yet to come. Whether you’ve been on the front lines for three months or forty years, thank you. Whether you’re a student, a newbie, or you’ve been around the block more than a few times, thank you. You are a hero in real life.