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

Key Areas for Health and Wellness

TF: You mentioned the compelling reasons why we need to frame the business case for shifting our organizations to health and wellness. If we are going to make substantive changes, which we must do, where should we start?

NV: We need to commit to three key areas to begin the process of program development.

  1. Strategically shift overall mission. Education and adoption of well-being should be an integral part of the organization's mission. The business case is compelling. We need to recruit, retain, improve safety, and build a workforce that has the tools needed to deal with major crises.

  2. Attitude adjustment with the goal of eliminating stigma. Shift the focus to building resilient organizations that in turn encourage and help build resilience among employees.

  3. Invest in people. Authentic leadership buy-in and support for changing the workplace. Leaders must communicate the importance of the wellness mission and building trust among employees.

In the recent report, The Future of Nursing 2020–2030. Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity, Chapter 10 is devoted to Supporting the Health and Professional Well-Being of Nurses. The charge is clear. Policymakers, employers, nursing schools, nurse leaders, professional associations, and nurses themselves all have a role in ensuring the well-being of the nursing workforce. The chapter is an extensive review of the contributing factors to lack of professional well-being and provides information on areas to be addressed (National Academy of Medicine, 2021).

The challenge is to take the knowledge about the realities of stress and mental health of the workforce and what we know in treating combat Veterans and apply this knowledge with focused interventions. As mentioned earlier, two populations must be considered: current workforce and those considering nursing as a career or currently engaged in the educational process.

Opportunity for organizations to improve communication and other outreach efforts is within our reach. We must all step up to the challenge. Success will take planning, focus, commitment, and the political will to make fundamental changes.