COVID-19 has a significant impact on the healthcare and nursing profession, changing the types of care provided, methods of delivery, workload, patients’ attitudes to their health, and socioeconomic issues linked to receiving care. While some modifications are already addressed, others are only emerging, which makes them more problematic to track. COVID-19 has caused a greater demand for healthcare workers, diversification of treatment and diagnosis methods, has deepened healthcare inequality, and has led to delayed treatment of other diseases, which can cause long-term complications of patients’ conditions.
The immediate impact of COVID-19 on nursing practice is seen in the significant increase in overload and the transition from the traditional models of treatment and diagnosis. The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating to a large number of individuals, creating an unequal workload for nurses and other medical professionals. Work overload has become a major threat to the nursing staff during this period, linked to the lack of resources and delays in responding to the patients’ requests (Garcia & Calvo, 2020). At the same time, nursing practice has become characterized by a dramatic increase in the use of telehealth and distant treatment methods, which have improved the pace and quality of provided care when the limitations of the patients’ location and the workload created obstacles to the physical presence of nurses. The attitudes towards telehealth have dramatically changed, influenced by the investment in digital health and better regulations associated with it.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated and deepened the health disparities in the communities. According to Mishra et al. (2021), the healthcare provision related to coronavirus reveals discrimination against vulnerable groups. This disparity is based on the long-term patterns of inequality in the access to healthcare among diverse communities, making it difficult for multiple minority groups to be treated on time. Similarly, the long-term consequences of the disparities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic extend to the growing gap between the people who receive high-quality healthcare and those who do not have access to adequate medical services. Today’s healthcare professionals face an increasing need to address these inequalities to ensure the protection of their patients.
Long-term health complications are the growing issue for the healthcare and nursing practice caused by the cancellation of appointments and the decrease of attention to other health issues. During the first months of the pandemic, many people canceled their appointments because of the fear of contracting a disease. Alternatively, many of them had their appointments canceled due to the lack of hospital beds or the unavailability of medical professionals. The delayed care will cause severe consequences to individuals, especially the ones with chronic diseases and conditions with high chances of complications. Although healthcare professionals have become less overloaded with coronavirus-related cases, the effects of deferred care will cause a new wave of challenges in the near future.
The healthcare industry and nursing practice have faced a set of difficulties and alterations, including workload increase, growth of medical disparities, and long-term adverse health outcomes associated with delayed care. While the nurses have addressed and adapted to the changing environment, many issues are not yet fully managed. It is vital to provide care to larger populations and encourage patients to continue their treatment and not ignore other health problems.
Garcia, G. M., & Calvo, J. C. (2020). The threat of COVID-19 and its influence on nursing staff burnout. Journal of Nursing Management, 77(2). https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.14642
Mishra, V., Seyedzenouzi, G., Almohtadi, A., Chowdhury, T., Khashkhusha, A., Axiaq, A., Wong, W., & Harky, A. (2021). Health inequalities during COVID-19 and their effects on morbidity and mortality. Journal of Healthcare Leadership, 13, 19–26. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.2147/JHL.S270175