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

Turning Point

We are clearly at a turning point in the status quo; just hoping most nurses do okay. For the few who have overt problems, the general attitude has been they just need to get some help or, perhaps, leave. Alternatively, we must have a comprehensive set of strategies as part of a longer-term response to the consequences of the pandemic, and then build these tools into our ongoing operations to preserve our current teams and develop future generations of the healthcare workforce.

Although it is encouraging that applications are up for both nursing and medical schools because of the pandemic, do we want these aspiring professionals to inherit what we have? Conversely, do we want to create a different landscape that we work together to build today? If these enthusiastic, young, and smart beginners are to survive and flourish, they will need a more welcoming and supportive space that builds on gratitude, health, wellness, and personal strengths. With this as a starting point, there is more opportunity for professional engagement which translates to providing supportive care to patients and for the community. Think of it as an investment that pays dividends (Andrews, 2021; della Cava, 2021).

Building strong and self-supportive teams requires individual, personal selflessness that comes from a nurtured core, balanced with self-care. To give your all requires periodic and planned recharging. Nurses, overwhelmed by sadness, momentarily escaping to the break room to cry alone, is not a solution. We must design work environments where self-recharging can be encouraged and addressed openly, and pay more attention to these concepts in our organizations.