I think many of the answers to your questions have to be individualized to each person or situation (I.e. geographical locations, hot spots, etc.). We also need to avoid basing our decisions, in regards to the pandemic, on our political affiliations. Our profession (because that's what nursing is) and what we do, is grounded in the best scientific evidence that we have at the time or moment.
How long do we do this?
Until we have a working vaccine or have achieved herd immunity.
How long do I go without seeing my extended family?
That depends. Are your family members willing to subscribe to infection control practices to limit the spread of the virus when your in their company? Two weeks from now, my nephew has a birthday party. I will go, but I'll bring my own lawn chairs, wear a mask, and distance myself from others. We won't stay all day, but long enough to visit and make memories. Truthfully, I've been visiting with my parents and sister for a couple months now. But I feel as if I can trust them. I know their thoughts on the seriousness of the coronavirus and we subscribe to the same viewpoints on who's at risk and how we as a community can mitigate the spread.
How long do I hesitantly go out in public, debating whether I should wear a mask when no one else is?
Why would you not wear a mask because someone else isn't? As a healthcare worker, you should be role-modeling good behavior in the community. There's no logic to your question.
How long do we keep our already home-schooled children away from social networks and peers?
There are plenty of ways to let your child network without being F2F. What about FaceTime or Zoom? Phone calls? Limited time on social media?
My kids have been meeting periodically with peers, but they also know my hard-limits on infection control practices when they're around other people. It might be easier for me because there is not a surge in my local community at this time.
How long do we stay home from church, our community lifeline?
I would only go to F2F church services if the church itself was adhering to the infection control guidelines set forth by the CDC. The church we visit live streams all their services and they've started to open up more sessions to accommodate for social distancing.
How do we prepare financially, mentally, spiritually?
Personally, I think this question falls in line with, "What is the meaning of life? There's no roadmap for this question.
If you're concerned about your future finances, I would start looking for supplemental job opportunities. You have 14 years of nursing experience. I'm not sure what credentials you have, but you could look at adjunct teaching, tutoring, legal nurse consulting, or CEU writing.
One way to help you prepare mentally and spiritually is to start practicing self-care (meditating, journal writing, yoga, hiking, massages, etc.). You need to start putting yourself first sometimes, physically and mentally. It will keep your immune system strong and also teach your kids to think about the needs of others over their own.
How do we, as a collective body of healthcare providers, ensure that the career we chose is honored and protected?
This can be broken down by the unit and hospital you work in and the state you practice in.
I'm a member of my state nurse's association and I get monthly newsletters, including periodic emails on new and updated legislative action that has been or is being implemented in my state. It's important to be aware of what's going on in your state and how it could impact your workplace.
You could also look to volunteer to be a board member on a committee for your state nurse's association. Lobbying to influence legislature in your state could be another route for you to go.
One of the most important things we can do as nurses, is to conduct ourselves in a professional manner and promote ourselves and our profession with dignity - in all settings. We practice under a robust body of knowledge and patient outcomes depend on us. We are not dispensable.
If you feel as if you have one foot already out the door, there are other options for you. You don't have to stay at the bedside. Nurses can impact the health and wellness of clients and the community in a variety of settings.