In Fight Against COVID-19, Nurses Face High-Stakes Decisions
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases accelerates in the United States, nurses on the front lines of the health care response have found themselves in unprecedented positions, making high-stakes decisions for patients and their own personal lives.
“We in uncharted territory in response to the magnitude of the pandemic,” says Cynda Rushton, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Berman Institute of Bioethics known as an international leader in nursing ethics. “It’s a time of great stress and uncertainty, and nurses are rising to the challenge.”
Two weeks ago, Rushton—author and editor of Moral Resilience: Transforming Moral Suffering in Healthcare (Oxford University Press, 2018)—helped create the Frontline Nurses Wikiwisdom Forum, a virtual safe space where nurses can share their challenges and experiences during COVID-19.
“We know that nurses are the backbone of American health care, and often its heart and soul,” the site says. “The COVID-19 pandemic is testing all of us, but nurses are on the front lines. This space will be available 24/7 until America exits this crisis. Join us. Share your knowledge, experience, and challenges about working on the front lines of a pandemic. We know you are overworked, understaffed, possibly heartbroken and anxious, but always courageous. Feeling part of a community, even a virtual one, can help.”
In a wide-ranging Q&A with the JHU Hub, Professor Rushton discusses the pandemic’s impact on the nursing profession, the ethical challenges it poses, and reasons for hope among the turmoil.