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How Nurses Will Shape the Future of Healthcare | NEWS-Line for School and Community Healthcare Professionals

How Nurses Will Shape the Future of Healthcare


As we emerge from the worst days of COVID-19, it is clear the future of healthcare will look different than anything we’ve seen before. What is less known and celebrated, even within the care industry, is the major role nurses are playing in the research, decision-making, and big-picture thinking behind the coming changes that will save lives, protect our wellbeing, and mitigate risk in the new normal.

Nurses are battling COVID-19 not only within hospitals, but in labs, clinics, offices, and from home -- and their work is having long-lasting effects on how we prevent and prepare for inevitable recurrences and new infectious diseases down the line. As part of the Jonas Nursing & Veteran’s Healthcare community, I see first hand the impact fellow nurses are making on a daily basis. With all that is going on in the world, from this virus, to disturbing racism and social injustices, it is important to step back, recognize, and cheer on those who are working to better our communities. Today, I’d like to honor exciting contributions and leadership from nurses who are protecting the country’s vulnerable populations from the pandemic:

Protecting Essential Workers: Shanina C. Knighton, PhD, RN

Dr. Knighton is an Instructor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University and has worked as a clinical nurse scientist in the field of infection prevention for over a decade. More relevant than ever before, her work identifies knowledge gaps within lower-income communities, small businesses, and grocery stores when it comes to using personal protective equipment, hand hygiene practice, and minimizing the risk for spread. Dr. Knighton’s findings have contributed to public official’s decisions in the State of Ohio about the implementation of evidence-based practice guidelines and initiatives in communities for the protection of essential workers. Her leadership and expertise during COVID-19 makes an impact at the highest level of policy to create a safer world for the people who are at risk everyday.

Caring for Our Mental Health: Briana L. Snyder, PhD, RN-BC, CNE

Dr. Snyder is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Towson University. As a psychiatric-mental health nurse working with inpatient trauma survivors, she confronts the reality of the psychological and emotional effect COVID-19 has on our wellbeing. Dr. Snyder’s observations do not stop with her patients, but extend to her colleagues and nursing students as well, who, while focused on others, need emotional support themselves. During these times, she has witnessed how her community has bravely and responsibly strove to adhere to social distancing guidelines, even when so many of the rules disrupt the typical tools and strategies for maintaining mental health. She encourages her students, colleagues, and patients alike to speak up about how they are feeling day to day. On the horizon, Dr. Snyder sees an opportunity for psychiatric nurses to lead the way in the nation’s recovery and create even more resilient methods of emotional care.

Looking to Future: Kelly L. Wierenga PhD, RN

Dr. Wierenga is an Assistant Professor at Indiana University, Purdue University, Indianapolis, who is co- leading a study on the impact of physical distancing on health behaviors and outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aims to look at the actions of 5,000 people both before and after the mandates were imposed, and is helping identify modifiable predictors of behaviors that slow virus spread. The results will lead to the development of targeted interventions that mitigate social and psychological distress among clinical and social populations. Dr. Wierenga, her partner, and her team are making an impact through this study on the ways we should approach returning to a new normal and the systems that will be put in place for health and safety in the future. Their work will ensure history does not repeat itself when it comes to unnecessary suffering.

It is thanks to nurses like these in leadership roles across the country that we are discovering new ways to take care of underserved populations. Looking forward, it is more apparent than ever we need to put nurses where they belonged from the start: at the top of the decision-making chain in today’s healthcare organizations. Together we can make a difference in today’s healthcare landscape by supporting our nurse heroes and the work they do to create better systems of care, tend to our most vital needs, and ensure that our healthcare system has the proper resources for accessible and equitable care.

Source: Dr. Stephen Ferrara, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, Interim Executive Director Jonas Nursing & Veterans Healthcare

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