COVID-19 Pandemic – What was the Impact on the Nursing Profession?

The public cites nursing as one of the most honest and ethical professions. For 19 consecutive years, the American Gallop polls reveal nurses as the #1 most trusted profession. Moreover, a worldwide survey by Growth from Knowledge (GfK) cites nursing as one of the most trusted professions. Many consider quality nursing care as requiring a delicate combination of skill and art to provide safe and high-quality patient care while meeting the patients' unique needs.

The pandemic has impacted the nursing profession in ways we cannot fully understand as the impacts are ongoing and profound.

One significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is the highlighting of the nursing profession. The repeated images of caring nurses suffering from distress following a patient's death without their loved ones surrounding them to nurses with facial skin injuries following long term wear of N95 masks for long hours have impacted the public worldwide. The public has seen the long days, and heartbreak nurses have experienced. The COVID-19 pandemic inadvertently brought the public into nurses' professional struggles where they face daily ethical dilemmas and the ongoing challenge of providing quality patient care, sometimes with limited resources. This insight has resulted in public awareness of what I consider was previously somewhat of a private struggle that we, as nurses, were aware of but did not publicly express. I can remember going home from my shifts years ago thinking over the challenges I had faced and wondered, "did I do my best today?", "could I have done better to help the patient I lost or the family they left behind?". These personal struggles were real long before the COVID-19 pandemic; the pandemic has only highlighted them for everyone to see.

Another impact has been within our profession. Nurses have had to look at themselves. While we consider ourselves resourceful, we have had to become more creative than ever and "dig deep" inside ourselves to balance our challenges assuring adequate home and work-life balance. Nurses have been asked to respond to the need by transitioning to new patient care units on short notice with little training. We have been asked to rapidly learn how to care for patients with a disease that is poorly understood and rapidly changing interventions. We have had to adapt to a "new normal" where families are not invited to visit their loved ones, even at the end of life. Nurses have not disappointed the public during this unprecedented time, and we have not left our patients. We have continued to care for them, sometimes with a valid concern that we may be bringing the COVID-19 home to our families. We have had to get creative at the end of life, occasionally stopping during a busy day to ensure a video chat or phone call was made to allow patients to talk with their loved ones, sometimes for the last time.

Reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on nursing makes me proud to be part of this esteemed profession. There are many of us working in different nursing work environments. Still, we stood as one in the pandemic, consistently providing care to our patients, as we always have, even in an unprecedented pandemic.


Dr. Jennifer M. Manning, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at Louisiana State University Health Science Center School of Nursing, USA

Author of newly released book - The Path to Building a Successful Nursing Career

Jennifer M. Manning

Jennifer M. Manning

Jennifer M. Manning

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at Louisiana State University Health Science Center School of Nursing, USA.

The Path to Building a Successful Nursing Career

Manning, Jennifer M. (Author)