The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the world in many ways, including the healthcare system. Nurses have played a significant role in responding to the crisis, showcasing their flexibility, resilience, and innovation in nursing education and practice. So as we mark International Nurses Day, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the lessons we have learned from the pandemic and how VFA Learning is building a better future for nurses and patients through education.
Lessons from the Pandemic for Nursing Education and Practice
One of the key lessons from the pandemic is the need for flexibility, resilience, and innovation in nursing education and practice. Nurses had to quickly adapt to new technologies and protocols, such as telehealth services, to provide care while minimising the risk of infection.
Louise Kemme, VFA Head of Nursing and Trainer, highlights the advantage of having industry-experienced trainers who can quickly adapt their teaching to benefit students.
“Now that we’ve overcome the crisis point, we can implement what we learned into our teachings for the next generation of nurses. These new nurses are graduating with a better understanding of self care, protecting oneself and their loved ones, and providing care to others safely and holistically.”
Nurses have also demonstrated incredible resilience in the face of the pandemic, adapting to new ways of working and providing emotional support to patients and families. Like most professions, the implementation of technology in nursing boomed in recent years. It’s now common practice to see nurses use information technology daily, such as:
- communicating with patients via text or telehealth services
- utilising e-scripts
- accessing electronic records; and
- using computers to facilitate medication dispensing.
These IT systems have also enabled the progression of support programs through videoconferencing, allowing nurses to offer meaningful support and care from a distance to patients who may otherwise struggle with getting to in-person meetings.
The pandemic has underscored the critical role of nursing education in preparing nurses to respond to public health crises and other challenges. As a result, the caring profession has come into sharp focus and will continue to do so as we enter flu season and face other healthcare crises.
“VFA nursing graduates are well-prepared. Many have completed their studies during Australia’s most challenging healthcare crisis and are ready for whatever other challenges may come their way,” says Louise.
Building a Better Future for Nurses and Patients
Even before the pandemic, Australia faced nursing shortages. According to Health Workforce Australia (HWA) research, there could be a shortfall of more than 100,000 nurses by 2025 and 123,000 by 2030. Policymakers, healthcare organisations, and nursing educators need to take action to promote nursing wellbeing and support the nursing profession. Adequate resources and staffing, professional development and training, and addressing social determinants of health affecting nurses and patients are essential.
Our expert Louise also points out that preventing health problems before they happen is crucial and more cost-effective. Unfortunately, the current healthcare system mainly focuses on caring for sick people in hospitals rather than preventing illness. The VFA nursing program offers a comprehensive curriculum that covers various aspects of patient care, including disease prevention, health promotion and community-based care.
Another crucial aspect is promoting diversity and inclusivity within the nursing workforce. Diversity in the nursing workforce provides open communication with diverse patients and fosters innovation in nursing practices. The international shortage of nurses highlights the importance of opening doors to a diverse nursing workforce.
As a Canadian nurse who immigrated to Australia, Louise says her knowledge of internationally renowned healthcare systems has enabled her to implement practices from both countries to ensure her patients receive the best care possible.
“Every country in the world is currently scrambling for nurses amidst an international shortage. If Australia doesn’t open its doors to a diverse nursing workforce, it will become even more short-staffed as there is a mass call for nurses. We all know that diverse workforces breed innovation.”
By continuing to adapt, innovate, and promote diversity, nurses can help build a better future for themselves, their patients and the wider community. Want to be a nurse that creates a better future for patients? Learn more about our Diploma of Nursing and start your caring career today.