Dealing With COVID-19 Post-Traumatic Stress

Strategies for Preserving the Nursing Workforce and Supporting all Vital Frontline Personnel

Therese A. Fitzpatrick, PhD, RN, FAAN; Nancy M. Valentine, PhD, DSc(hon), MPH, FAAN, FNAP President


Nurs Econ. 2021;39(5):225-238, 250. 

In This Article

Politics, Vaccines, and Moral Distress

TF: No doubt politicization of the disease and vaccine has contributed to the moral distress experienced by our colleagues. Is this consistent with your observations?

NV: Absolutely. Polarization of policies on how to mandate or not mandate vaccines for clinicians has been a dilemma for many organizations. However, those who have set the bar for mandating vaccines are to be congratulated, starting with Houston Methodist who took the courageous step to mandate vaccinations and deal with the fallout from staff who refused and quit. Putting patients first is what is best for the community at large. Individuals have choices. If there are those who cannot tolerate such a policy, it is their choice to not get vaccinated. But they should consequently expect to leave employment. Working with nonvaccinated staff is an additional threat and is another example of moral distress (Goldstein, 2021).

Witnessing several people die on their shift and then seeing maskless people after leaving work can be very upsetting for nurses. Risking their lives and health while diligently caring for people who are noncompliant can drain valuable energy.

Over 50 healthcare professional organizations including the American Nurses Association (ANA), American Public Health Association, and American Medical Association called for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates for All Health Workers (Anthes, 2021; Association of American Medical Colleges, 2021; Diamond, 2021). Healthcare organizations must take the lead in addressing the transition to healthy workplaces.