COVID-19 and Beyond: Oncology Nursing in Uncertain Times

Currently, we are facing unprecedented challenges in nursing and with our collective experiences and expertise.

Nurses, we got this.

Currently, we are facing unprecedented challenges in nursing and with our collective experiences and expertise. Nurses will be on front lines providing outstanding care to all. More than 100 years ago, Florence Nightingale showed the world that basic infection prevention saves lives. As a reminder from Flo’s work, nurses, wash and wash your hands, stay home if you are sick, and practice isolation/ social distancing — it works. Many of us may be scared, anxious, and overwhelmed, but we will keep moving forward and caring for those that need us. Many of your nursing skills comes from muscle memory both physical and mental - rely on those memories.

The most critical task requires you to pause and correctly don and doff your isolation personal protective equipment (PPE) — your wellness depends on it. As always, work as a team and watch the backs (and fronts) of all your team members. The patients are scared and they look to all of us for reassurance and a calm environment; nurses are great at comforting please don’t forget that most important skills.

Finally, and most importantly, we are nurses, which still makes us human. Take care of you. This is a most trying time for the world, our country and your work place, so please remember to pause, breath, eat healthy, and love your family and friends. As oncology nurses, we understand the stress of devastation and loss and we know the cost of bearing witness to pain and suffering. Please take care of yourself — you've got this, my amazing colleagues.

Patricia Jakel, RN, co-editor in chief at Oncology Nursing News, is an advance practice nurse for the Solid Tumor Program at UCLA Healthcare. She oversees the care of 25-35 patients receiving chemotherapy, radiation therapy, symptom management, and end-of-life care. Jakel mentors new nurses to the art of oncology nursing. She is also involved in nursing research looking at moral distress and compassion fatigue. She is a frequent speaker on symptom management, new oncology treatments, resilience building and ethical issues in oncology. She has numerous publications on ethics and oncology nursing, compassion fatigue, and chemotherapy agents.