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While it might seem coincidental that the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world during the Year of the Nurse, there could be no better time than now to recognize the value of nurses. The Year of the Nurse and Midwife was declared by the World Health Organization to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12. This is the first time the WHO has declared a designated year for anything. The designation was intended to highlight the contributions of nurses everywhere; to mobilize action to address the shortage of nurses worldwide; and, to reduce the effect that shortage has on the health of people everywhere. Ironically, in 2020 we find ourselves in a terrible battle, just like Florence Nightingale did on the fields of the Crimean war where she battled infections, unfathomable injuries, and mortality with shortages of supplies.
Your staff is the foundation of your health system’s success. The COVID-19 crisis is having an enormous impact on health system operations, and the pandemic will have far-reaching effects on how health systems manage their staff. Going forward, healthcare leaders need to expect more from their workforce management strategy as they depend on staffing strategies that empower them to develop and deploy an agile, flexible workforce. An emphasis on leveraging healthcare staffing and scheduling systems and defining clear processes will play a critical role in achieving success over the long term.
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Much of the current news coverage about the novel Coronavirus is focused on dealing with equipment shortages, such as ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE). These material goods are vital to the COVID-19 response. An equally important component to a successful response is ensuring that the front-line staff who will be caring for patients can be successfully deployed in a way that ensures the best patient care possible while also protecting staff from unsafe work conditions and burnout.