Delaware is still debating whether to reopen in-person classes at public schools this month, but if they’re ready, our Nurse of the Week, Mispillion Elementary’s school nurse Sue Smith will be ready too.
After 25 years of working for the Milford school district—and seven years of nursing at Mispillion Elementary—the Delaware School Nursing Association’s 2019 School Nurse of the Year is not easily rattled. As the pandemic started to spread last year, Smith’s extensive experience prompted local officials to add her to Delaware Governor John Carney and the Delaware Department of Education’s Health and Wellness Workgroup for School Reopening, where she helped to assess the state’s plan to send kids back to school.
Smith has been ready to return to care for her kids since last fall when Delaware schools opened and swiftly sputtered to a close when Covid-19 cases began breaking out within days. Back when People magazine spoke to the 62-year-old school nurse in September, Smith’s view was quite matter-of-fact: “In my nurse’s office, I’ll still feel very comfortable doing what I normally do. I’ll have my mask and goggles on because I’ll be very close to the children, but I’ll feel very confident doing an assessment. Of course, I think there’s always going to be a level of anxiety for the unknown because this virus is an unknown. We don’t have a crystal ball to tell us everything will be okay. It’s not about if someone’s going to get infected — it’s when. But I truly believe we’re prepared to handle it.”
Mispillion Elementary Principal Teresa Wallace told Delaware State News that she places the utmost confidence in her school nurse. “She’s helped the district prepare and helped our school prepare. She is in the field of nursing and has a lot of background, not just as a school nurse, but in other areas. I feel like her knowledge base is really important in dealing with something that has so many unknowns.”
Smith’s debut in the pages of America’s best-known celebrity periodical hasn’t phased her. Asked about her remarks in People, she said, “All school nurses are feeling the same anxieties and those kinds of things. It’s important to know that in Delaware we’re all trying to work together to help each other.” What does she plan to do with her brush with fame? “I probably will put it [the magazine] in a frame for my granddaughter. That way, she’ll have it for a long, long time.”
Since 78-year-old nursing home resident Mauricette received the first Covid vaccination in France on December 27, the French have given the new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine a cool reception. President Emile Macron declared, “Let’s have trust in our researchers and doctors. We are the nation of the Enlightenment and of Pasteur. Reason and science should guide us.” So far though, few seem to be heeding Macron’s words. Vaccinations for SARS-CoV-2 are proceeding at a painfully slow pace in many nations, but progress in France—which has lost more citizens to Covid-19 than almost any other EU country—has been moving at a (pre-climate-change) glacial pace.
One key issue is surely the logistics of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. In France, nursing home residents were designated to be the first to receive shots, but most care home facilities lack the special freezers needed to store the vaccine at -70 degrees Centigrade. Another factor, one that affects most countries, is that politicians have been setting overly optimistic, pie-in-the-sky targets. For the French, though, the steepest barrier is an anti-vaxx climate that permeates the country. Repeated polls in the fall indicated that over 50% of of the French did not intend to get a shot when vaccines became available (compared to about 36% in US polls). In practice, the numbers are even more dismaying. During the first week of the national rollout—which placed care home residents at the top tier—fewer than 600 people received Covid jabs. (Some 400 French are dying every day of Covid complications). As a Bloomberg columnist put it, “At this rate, it would take France about 400 years to vaccinate its people.” France is a bastion of vaccine hesitancy—to such an extent that even many healthcare providers regard vaccines as suspect.
The stalled Covid vaccination campaign is the latest episode in the history of French vaccine misadventures. Officials are retooling plans in the hope of fending off a repeat of the disastrous 2009 H1N1 effort—in which only 8% of the population received shots and millions of vaccine doses were wasted.
This dubious attitude toward scientifically tested life-saving medicines in the home of Louis Pasteur may seem strange, but it does not arise from a mistrust of science so much as a mistrust of institutions, especially government. As vaccination campaigns tend to be government-run, politics, as in the US, can be a deciding factor. Social media falsehoods about the new vaccines run rampant, and both the far-right and far-left mingle vaccine hesitancy with a deep suspicion of the Macron administration. “Part of the population may reject the jabs just because they don’t see them as an anti-Covid vaccine, but as a pro-Macron one,” science historian and vaccine hesitancy researcher Laurent-Henri Vignaud told Wired UK. Mistrust is further fueled by mishandling of mask guidelines to a degree that makes the US fumbles seem quite venial.
What now? The country is engaged in a mad dash to jump-start the campaign. One positive step is that nursing home staff over age 50 were moved up the line to be vaccinated along with care home residents, along with healthcare providers. Progress among HCPs should speed things, as many hospitals have freezers capable of storing the Pfizer-BioNTech formula, and the arrival of the Moderna vaccine (which can be stored in a regular freezer) will ease the logistics of vaccinating France’s large elderly population. Also, it should be kept in mind that most countries have had deeply disappointing vaccine rollouts. As more types of vaccines become available, and as nations start to correct the hyper-inflated targets set by elected officials, the process should pick up speed, but it is probably too early to indulge in speculation about when communities will see a return to “normalcy.”
During the initial US COVID-19 outbreak last March, Americans were quick to express their gratitude to nurses and other healthcare workers. Entire cities boosted the spirits of HCWs with nightly cheers, and individuals as well as businesses sent meals to hospitals, offered nurses personal assistance, and performed other acts of kindness. Now, with the massive fall/winter surge courses around the nation, people are searching for new ways to support nurses’ efforts in fighting the pandemic. If anyone asks you what they can do to support nurses, here are some suggestions from our friends at the Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies (see the full story here):
1. Follow the Recommended Safety Protocols
Help slow the spread of the virus by taking the recommended precautions, such as staying home, wearing masks in public, and following social distancing guidelines. And make time to get a Covid-19 shot ASAP when the vaccines become available to the general public later this year!
2. Donate Blood
In times of crisis, there is often a shortage of blood donations, which can be critical for patient care. Organizations like the Red Cross offer information on how to find local blood drives.
3. Contact Community Leaders
Find out if groups in your area are making efforts to help. For example, local churches have done cloth mask drives to help minimize the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) outside of health care settings, Arceneaux said.
As we enter flu season, health care experts are worried about managing influenza outbreaks while also continuing to treat COVID-19 patients, Arceneaux said. Taking this precaution can help slow the spread of the influenza virus.
6. Ask a Nurse
If you know a nurse or health care worker, consider asking them if they need assistance with running errands, child care, or other tasks.
7. Give to Charities that Support Covid Frontliners
Several nonprofit organizations are currently raising money for COVID-19 initiatives. To make sure your money will be put to good use, look up the groups you are considering on Charity Navigator or Charity Watch to verify their trustworthiness.
This crowdfunding effort by the CDC Foundation was established to direct funds toward purchasing medical supplies, increasing lab capacity, deploying emergency staffing, providing support to vulnerable communities, and other health care efforts related to COVID-19.
This fund aims to “support containment, response, and recovery activities.” In addition to providing services for vulnerable populations and small businesses, the fund also supports frontline health care workers by providing PPE and deploying emergency medical teams.
Intrahealth International is behind this initiative, which directly supports health care professionals. Services provided through donations vary, as they strive to address the current and ever-changing needs of medical teams.
The World Health Organization is raising money to address the pandemic in many ways through their partnerships. In addition to accelerating COVID-19 research, WHO also offers PPE and other supplies to health care workers.
Organized by GlobalGiving, this fund supports health care workers by sending medical teams to communities in need of additional help, as well as providing supplies such as masks and ventilators to hospitals. The fund additionally serves vulnerable community members affected by the pandemic.
Project HOPE focuses primarily on providing PPE to health care workers, delivering training on how to care for COVID-19 patients, and deploying health care workers to medical facilities in need of additional staffing.
My wife, Sally, is an infusion nurse at Lurie Children’s Hospital and is now in her 43rd year on the front lines. She received the COVID-19 vaccine on January 2nd.
I have been working from home as the NICU Quality Improvement neonatologist for Comer Children’s Hospital at University of Chicago and came down to get my COVID-19 vaccine #1. I have had the opportunity to see a number of frontline providers, friends, and colleagues and spend some time in my office. As I walked by the NICU and the Emergency Department in the Children’s Hospital, I have a lot of mixed feelings. Practicing clinically was always my favorite part of my “job” and I miss it. At the same time, I am now 69 years old and am still also teaching, editing, writing, and helping nurses, nurse practitioners (NP), medical students, residents, fellows, faculty, and physician assistant (PA) students with their education, research, and writing. But I am now also in a high risk group for severe COVID-19 disease having had a four vessel bypass in 2013.
I have so much respect and admiration for all of the nurses, PAs, NPs, and physicians at every level of training and practice who are on the front lines during this COVID-19 pandemic. My feelings are so much greater when I am on site and seeing the challenges you all face to protect yourselves and still provide care for the children and their families.
One of the great challenges we face during this pandemic is figuring out which of our patients is at greatest risk for developing severe SARS-COV-2 infection or COVID-19 disease. Using epidemiological and descriptive studies we have been able to identify some high risk groups including older adult patients, those pediatric and adults patients with chronic disease, are pregnant, and/or who are immuncompromised. Children, in general, unless they have an underlying disease, tend to have milder clinical courses, unless they develop multi-inflammatory systemic disease (MIS-C). So, we have to be concerned about every one of our patients when we see them and follow them closely. Around 30% of adults may have ongoing clinical manifestations including fatigue, dyspnea, joint pain, and chest pain as long as 6 weeks after their acute course. The fact that there are viral variants and evidence from other studies about immunity post other coronavirus infections suggests that we will not have lifelong immunity post having the clinical infection. We are not sure how long the immunity will last post clinical infection or with the vaccine as well. The pandemic and our knowledge base continues to evolve.
And what looking after ourselves? As I talk with Sally after she comes home from caring for her pediatric patients, most of whom have chronic disease including cancer, autoimmune diseases, inborn errors of metabolism, the stress on her and all of you who are on the front lines is increased to levels that are exhausting. As a former intensive care pediatrician for 30+ years, I can only empathize and imagine what you are all dealing with during this pandemic.
So please continue to follow the newest, evolving clinical recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after careful review. Please also realize how much all of us who are watching all of you care for patients on the front lines respect and admire you for your dedication. But please, take care of yourselves!
Though African Americans are being hospitalized for COVID-19 at more than triple the rate of white Americans, wariness of the new vaccine is higher in the Black population than in most communities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighted communities of color as a “critical population” to vaccinate. But ProPublica found little in the way of concrete action to make sure that happens.
And it could be hard to track which populations are getting the vaccine. While the CDC has asked states to report the race and ethnicity of every recipient, along with other demographic information like age and sex, the agency doesn’t appear ready to apply any downward pressure to ensure that such information will be collected.
In state vaccination registries, race and ethnicity fields are simply considered “nice to have,” explained Mitchel Rothholz, chief of governance and state affiliates for the American Pharmacists Association. While other fields are mandatory, such as the patient’s contact information and date of birth, leaving race and ethnicity blank “won’t keep a provider from submitting the data if they don’t have it.”
In the initial stages, vaccines will go to people who are easy to find, like health care workers and nursing home residents. But barriers will increase when distribution moves to the next tier — which includes essential workers, a far larger and more amorphous group. Instead of bringing the vaccine to them, it’s more likely that workers will have to seek out the vaccine, so hesitancy and lack of access will become important factors in who gets the shots and who misses out.
“There are individuals who are required to be on the front line to serve in their jobs but perhaps don’t have equitable access to health care services or have insurance but it’s a challenge to access care,” said Dr. Grace Lee, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine and member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which is tasked with issuing guidance on the prioritization of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. “We can build equity into our recommendations, but implementation is where the rubber meets the road.”
Hesitancy is Rooted in Medical Exploitation and Mistreatment
About a quarter of the public feels hesitant about a COVID-19 vaccine, meaning they probably or definitely would not get it, according to a December poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Hesitancy was higher than average among Black adults in the survey, with 35% saying that they definitely or probably would not get vaccinated.
Mistrust of the medical community among people of color is well-founded, stemming from a history of unscrupulous medical experimentation. The infamous Tuskegee study, conducted from 1932 to 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service, still looms large in the memories of many Black Americans, who remember how researchers knowingly withheld treatment from African American sharecroppers with syphilis in order to study the disease’s progression.
But the injustices aren’t confined to the past. The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine has found that minorities tend to receive lower-quality health care than white counterparts, even when adjusting for age, income, insurance and severity of condition. Black Americans are also more likely to be uninsured and utilize primary care services less often than white Americans.
“It’s not just about history. It’s about the here and now,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, an infectious disease physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. “People point to racial injustice across the system. It’s not just hospitals; people don’t trust the government, or they ask about the pharmaceutical industry’s profit motive. From the very beginning, Black and brown people are marginalized from the enterprise of research. They think: ‘So few people look like us in research, industry and academia, why should we trust that someone at that table is thinking of our interest?’”
When it comes to vaccinations, the consequences can be grave. Black and Hispanic people are less likely to get the flu shot than white people, according to the CDC. At the same time, Black Americans have the highest rate of flu-associated hospitalizations, at 68 people per 100,000 population, compared to 38 people per 100,000 in the non-Hispanic white population.
Health officials have tried to assuage vaccine concerns in the traditional way, by publicizing specific individuals receiving the shot. The U.S. began its mass immunization effort by injecting a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine into the left upper-arm of Sandra Lindsay, a Black woman and critical care nurse in New York.
Meanwhile, an onslaught of memes and conspiracy theories characterizing the vaccine as harmful are making the rounds on social media. One reads, “Just had the covid-19 vaccine. Feeling great,” along with the picture of the character from the 1980 movie “The Elephant Man.” Another image circulating on Twitter features the photos of three Black people and claims they are suffering from Bell’s palsy due to the vaccine. The Twitter user who shared the image asked followers, “still want those Tuskegee 2.0 genocide vaccines?”
It may only take one or two negative headlines to further sow fear, said Komal Patel, who has 16 years of experience as a pharmacist in California. After two health care workers in the United Kingdom experienced allergic reactions to Pfizer’s vaccine, Patel said she saw anxiety spike on social media, even though regulators have said that only people with a history of anaphylaxis — a severe or life threatening immune reaction — to ingredients in the vaccine need to avoid taking the shot. “Just two patients, and here we go, there’s all this chatter.”
Key States Lack Concrete Plans to Promote Vaccines in Black Communities
It falls to states to make sure their residents of color are vaccinated. But the speed at which the vaccine needs to be disseminated means that states haven’t had much time to plan communications efforts, said Lee, from CDC’s advisory group. “How do we make sure messaging is appropriate? You may want to emphasize different messages for different communities. We don’t have the time for that.”
ProPublica found that few states can articulate specifically what they are doing to address vaccine skepticism in the Black community.
Texas, Georgia and Illinois’ state plans make no mention of how they plan to reach and reassure their Black residents. Black communities make up between 13% and 33% of the population in the three states, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. None of the three states’ health departments responded to requests for comment.
California’s state plan includes “a public information campaign … to support vaccine confidence,” but does not provide details apart from the state’s intention to use social media, broadcast outlets and word of mouth. In an email, the California Department of Public Health did not provide additional information about outreach to Black residents, only saying, “this is an important issue we continue to work on.”
A spokesman for New York’s Department of Public Health said the state has been working since September to overcome hesitancy with expert panels and events like Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s November meeting with community leaders in Harlem to discuss concerns with the Trump administration’s vaccine plan, specifically for communities of color.
“Governor Cuomo has been leading the national effort to ensure…black, brown and underserved communities have equal access to, and confidence in, the vaccine,” a Saturday statement said.
Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said: “Media outreach is not enough. TV ads are one thing, but usually public service announcements are at midnight when nobody is listening, because that’s when they’re free.” Normally, public health officials go to barber shops, beauty salons, bowling alleys and other popular locales to hand out flyers and answer questions, but due to the pandemic and limits on congregating, that’s not an option, Benjamin said, so officials need to plan a serious social media strategy. That could involve partnering with “influencers” like sports figures and music stars by having them interview public health figures, Benjamin suggested.
Dr. Mark Kittleson, chair of the Department of Public Health at New York Medical College, said he’s not surprised to hear how vague some of the state health plans are, because states often focus on providing high-level guidance while county or regional level health departments are left to execute the plan. But he said specific efforts need to be undertaken to reach residents of color. “Spokespeople for the vaccination need to be a diverse group,” Kittleson said. “Dr. Tony Fauci is fantastic, but every state needs to find the leading health care experts that represent the diversity in their own state, whether it’s Native American, African American or Latino.” Kittleson also suggested partnering with churches.“Especially in the African American community, when the minister stands up and says, ‘Folks, you need to take your blood pressure medication and take care of yourself,’ people listen to that,” he said. “The church needs to be brought into the fold.”
Maryland’s state plan acknowledges the distrust among Black and Latino communities as well as rural residents, and says it will aim to tailor communication to each group by working with trusted community partners and representatives of vulnerable groups. A Department of Health spokesperson said in an email that “as vaccination distribution continues to ramp up, we urge all individuals to get the vaccine.”
Florida’s written plan includes a messaging strategy for everyone in the state, but does not specifically address the Black community. A “thorough vaccination communication plan continues to be developed in order to combat vaccine hesitancy,” a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health said in response to ProPublica’s queries.
In North Carolina and Virginia, however, health officials started preparing months ago to reassure residents about potential vaccines. North Carolina formed a committee in May with leaders from marginalized communities to guide the state’s overall response to the pandemic. Vaccine concerns were a priority, said Benjamin Money, deputy secretary of health services for North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services.
The politicization of the pandemic has mobilized the Black and brown medical scientific community to dig into the research and how the vaccines work, Money said, “so that they can feel assured that the vaccine’s safe and it’s effective and they can convey the message to their patients and to their community constituents.”
The committee is advising North Carolina officials on their vaccine messaging and hosting a webinar for Black religious leaders. Similarly, the Virginia Department of Health has staff devoted to health equity across racial and ethnic groups and is putting on a series of town hall-style meetings speaking to specific communities of color.
Black residents in Virginia have expressed concerns about how rapidly the early vaccines were developed, said Dr. Norman Oliver, Virginia’s state health commissioner.
“It all boils down to telling people the truth,” Oliver said. “The first thing to let folks know is that one of the reasons why these vaccines were developed so quickly is because of the advances in technology since the last time we did vaccines; we’re not trying to grow live virus and keep it under control or do attenuated virus and develop a vaccine this way.”
In addition to promoting reliable information, Virginia health officials hired a company to monitor the spread of vaccine misinformation in the state and to locate where falsehoods appear to be taking hold, Oliver said. The state hopes to target its communications in places where distrust is most intense.
The CDC has set aside $6.5 million to support 10 national organizations, according to spokesperson Kristen Nordlund. The funds are “to be disbursed by each organization to their affiliates and chapters across the country so they may do immunization-focused community engagement in the local communities they serve,” Nordlund said in an email. She didn’t respond to questions on whether the funds had already been disbursed and to which organizations.
Data Collection on the Race of Vaccine Recipients is Likely to be Incomplete
Every state has a vaccination registry, where data on administered shots is routinely reported, from childhood vaccinations to the flu shot. What’s new in this pandemic is that the CDC has requested all the data be funneled up to the federal level, so it can track vaccination progress across the nation.
“Race and ethnicity data should be recorded in states’ immunization data, but we do not know how reliably it is collected,” said Mary Beth Kurilo, senior director of health informatics at the American Immunization Registry Association. “We really don’t have good data on how well it’s captured out there across the country.”
Many immunization records are fed into the state’s registry directly from a doctor’s electronic health record system, Kurilo said, which can present technological stumbling blocks: “Is [the data] routinely captured as part of the registration process? Can they capture multiple races, which I think is something that’s become increasingly important going forward?”
When asked about historic rates of compliance and how they planned to gather information on race and ethnicity of vaccine recipients this time, health departments from Georgia, Texas, Illinois, Florida and California didn’t respond.
Maryland’s state plans indicate it intends to use information gathered through its vaccine appointment scheduling system, including demographic data gathered from recipients, to direct its communication outreach efforts. The Maryland Department of Health, which didn’t provide more detailed information, said it is “currently exploring all options as far as vaccine data reporting.”
North Carolina’s immunization records system routinely collects race and ethnicity information, and a spokesperson told ProPublica it has that type of demographic data for 71% of people in the system. Stephanie Wheawill, director of pharmacy services at the Virginia Department of Health, said that providers will be “asked to record that information” but didn’t elaborate on how the department planned to encourage or enforce compliance.
Data fields for vaccine recipients’ race and ethnicity are standard in New York, a spokesman said. But the state didn’t provide any details about rates of compliance in supplying that data.
“You’ve got to have the data to compare,” said Martha Dawson, president of the National Black Nurses Association and an associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s nursing school. “Because if you don’t have the data, then we’re just guessing. There’s no way to know who received it if you don’t take the data.”
There is tension between gathering enough data to understand the extent of the rollout and the possibility that asking for too much information will scare away people who are already leery of the vaccine.
“The biggest concern people have is how will this information be used?” said Lee, from the CDC’s advisory group. “People need to trust that the data will be used with a good intent. “
Rothholz, with the American Pharmacists Association, said there could be ways apart from state registries to estimate vaccine uptake among minorities. “If I’m a community pharmacy in a predominantly African American community, if I’m giving away 900 or 1000 vaccines, you can track penetration that way,” he said. Geographic-based analysis, however, would depend on the shots being distributed via community pharmacies rather than by mass vaccination sites — a less likely scenario for the Pfizer vaccine, the first to be administered, which requires ultracold storage that will be difficult for many small pharmacies to manage.
It Will Be Up to Doctors and Community Leaders to Encourage Trust
The best way to help a worried individual, whether scared about data collection or the vaccine itself, is a conversation with a trusted caregiver, according to Dr. Susan Bailey, president of the American Medical Association.
“Time and again it’s been shown that one of the most valuable things to encourage a patient to undertake a change, whether it’s stopping smoking or losing weight, is a one-on-one conversation with a trusted caregiver — having your physician saying, ‘I took it and I really want you to take it too,” she said. “But patients have to have the opportunity to ask questions, and not to be blown off or belittled or feel troublesome for asking all their questions.”
“If someone says that they’re afraid of being a guinea pig, maybe drill a bit deeper,” Bailey suggested. “Ask, ‘What are you concerned about? Are you concerned about side effects? Are you concerned that not enough people have taken it?’”
The American Academy of Family Physicians uses the mnemonic “ACT” to guide their members in conversations with patients of color, president Dr. Ada Stewart said in an email: “Be Accountable and Acknowledge both historical and contemporary transgressions against Black, brown and Indigenous communities. … Communicate safety, efficacy and harms such that individuals can weigh their own personal risk to potential benefits, and exercise Transparency with regard to the development of vaccines and the distribution process.”
David Hodge, associate director of education at Tuskegee University’s National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care, urges Black and brown leaders such as pastors and community organizers to take control of the messaging right now and not wait for their local governments to tackle the issue.
“We’re not in a position right now to be patient. We’re not in a position to sit on the sidelines, we have to make it happen.”
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The Medscape 2020 nurse job satisfaction survey dove into fears, PPE woes, and other highs and lows of life in the workplace during the pandemic. Medscape surveyed 10,400 nurses across all regions of the US and analyzed responses from 5130 RNs, 2002 NPs, 2000 LPNs, 500 clinical nurse specialists (CNS), 401 nurse-midwives (NMs), and 391 CRNAs. Most respondents fell within the 35-54-year-old age group.
Despite the hardships of 2020, most respondents are still quite happy with their choice of career. A full 98% of NMs and CRNAs are glad they chose nursing, closely followed by 96% of CNS, 95% of LPNs and NPs, and 93% of RNs.
Given the chance of a do-over, though, some are not sure they would make the same choice. 85% of NMs and CNS say they would pick nursing again. Among RNs and CRNAs, 76% and 78% would stick with nursing.
The Impact of Covid-19
Among CRNAs, 73% have treated Covid-19 patients. Midwives came in second, with 60% of NMs saying they had treated Covid patients, followed by NPs (57%), RNs (53%), LPNs (50%), and CNS (38%). Have they had sufficient PPE? Responses were almost evenly divided, with a majority of LPNs (59%) and RNs (56%) affirming that they have enough PPE.
Who was furloughed? CRNAs were at the front of the line, with 34% saying they had been furloughed during the pandemic. NPs came in second, at 18%, followed by LPNs (15%) and RNs (14%). On average over 30% of the nurses surveyed lost income last year, but CRNAs took the biggest hit, with 59% saying they lost money in 2020.
Telehealth is becoming routine for nurse-midwives and NPs. In the 2020 survey, 77% of NMs and 75% of NPs told Medscape that they met with patients online or by phone, and 53% of the LPNs surveyed made virtual visits.
Fears and worries during this scary year were to be expected, of course. Nurses’ greatest concerns during the pandemic were concentrated on the fear of transmitting Covid to family and oneself, but 38% singled out the discomfort of wearing extra PPE as their main woe, and 23% worried most about higher patient loads.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job
Asked about their main source of job satisfaction, nurses offered a range of answers, but helping people and making a difference in their lives was the top choice for RNs, LPNs, and APRNs (click charts to enlarge).
Least satisfying aspect of the job: Workplace politics ranked first for RNs and LPNs at 23% and 21% respectively, and for 26% of CNS’s. LPNs also pointed to their paychecks as a source of dissatisfaction.