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Nursing during global healthcare challenges

On the occasion of International Nurses Day, we take a look at the role of nurses in the prevention, management and treatment of COVID-19.

As part of a strong and multi-disciplinary healthcare team, nurses and midwives make a significant contribution to delivering on the commitments to healthcare provision. They are critical in health promotion, disease prevention and delivering primary and community care and providing care in emergency settings and are critical for the achievement of universal health coverage.

Omnia Health Insights spoke to Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Health Sciences and Medicine (MBRU)’s College of Nursing and Midwifery’s Dean Professor Kevin Gormley on the occasion of International Nurses Day (12th May) about his views on the increased focus on nurses and nursing during global healthcare challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

What roles do nurses play in emerging diseases prevention, management and treatment?

Nurses and the profession of nursing has always taken great pride in providing care and meeting the needs of patients and their families during periods of ill health. Nurses are always there to offer support and encouragement and to support healing, rehabilitation and the restoration of balance and health. The presence of pandemic and other emergencies does have an impact. It requires a refocusing of nursing needs and interventions, but essentially the philosophy and bedside support and continued care that has always been offered remains.

Going forward, nurses need to be resilient and empowered with decision-making and leadership qualities. They are also very much part of their local community – sharing its culture, strengths and vulnerabilities – and can shape and deliver effective interventions to meet the needs of patients, families and communities.

What aspects of nursing should be focused on during global healthcare challenges?

Nurses should be able to demonstrate competency in fundamental principles of effective public health and emergency preparedness, including effective crisis communications. Nurses will play an important role as advocates for vulnerable population and client groups to ensure they have access to care, and there is a fair and equal distribution of resources. Nurses and midwives are often the first and sometimes the only health professional that people see during periods of ill health and the quality of their initial assessment, care and treatment is vital.

What roles do nurses carry out that can influence healthcare outcomes?

Nurses and midwives are contributing significantly towards developing evidence-based practice, conducting health research and developing innovative practices as part of interdisciplinary teams. Nurses have taken on advanced and specialist roles, and globally many midwifery- and nurse-led services provide new and innovative models of care.

Nurse practitioners deliver many specialist services. For example, the care of patients with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is now routinely managed in many countries by nurses, with doctors available when necessary. Advanced nurse practitioners, nurse consultants and nurse specialists now undertake many extended roles, including running clinics, undertaking procedures and prescribing medication.

Technology and informatics have expanded the role of nurses and the delivery of care. We also envisage that as part of the continued developing role and competencies of nurses, they will have the capability, in agreed clinical circumstances, to prescribe medications for patients.

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Professor Kevin Gormley
 

How should we increase the nursing capacity to deal with future healthcare challenges?

Nursing has always been an attractive profession for people of all ages, and both men and women, and will continue to be, despite the presence of the pandemic. The attractiveness of nursing as a profession has been enhanced through important initiatives including university education, continued professional development, increased leadership and clinically based managerial responsibilities and well-developed career structure (research, academic and specialist roles) that encourages nurses to continually reflect upon their needs and how they can best contribute to practice.

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