This February, the USF College of Nursing will offer a series of virtual courses for frontline nurses about staying safe and healthy—both physically and mentally—while working in a pandemic. “Frontline Nursing During Covid-19: A New Paradigm” will address pandemic-related concerns like Covid-19 pathology, self-care and risk-mitigation, empowerment and self-advocacy, identifying limitations and asking for help.
The continuing-education webinars will be made available free for registrants throughout the country, thanks to a $57,000 donation from Sarasota’s David Kotok and Christine Schlesinger. Nurses who complete the program will be eligible for continuing-education credits, which are a necessary part of license renewal.
“We already know that pre-pandemic, nurses were known to be less healthy than the average American,” says USF’s Rayna Letourneau, a registered nurse and assistant professor who’s overseeing the course’s development. “Already we have health and wellness issues. I just see it getting more complex. It’s being exacerbated by the pandemic.”
In February of this year, a national study by UC San Diego confirmed that suicide risk was significantly higher among nurses than the general population.
The course will be available in two tracks, one geared toward novice nurses and one for industry veterans. Each track comprises four webinars, which can be viewed on-demand at the registrants’ convenience. The first webinar will present credible information about Covid-19 as a disease, and compare and contrast 2020 to previous pandemics in history. The second webinar will emphasize the importance of self-care and provide strategies for risk-mitigation and personal health. The third webinar will address difficult professional situations, empowering nurses to navigate uncomfortable conversations and advocate for their rights.
For the fourth webinar, novice nurses will learn about transitioning to professional practice during a pandemic, how to get the most out of their orientation, and how to identify their limits and know when to ask for help. Experienced nurses will also receive guidance on establishing personal limits, as well as mentoring other nurses during a pandemic.
After completing the program, nurses will have an opportunity to participate in, or suggest topics for, a 12-part podcast series to be released on a monthly basis through March 2022. “It’s more than just a course,” says Letourneau. “We’re developing a program that is ultimately going to be a resource for nurses on the front lines.”
USF will release registration information as soon as it’s finalized.
The program is already generating buzz throughout the country’s nursing community. “They’re excited because this is really made by nurses, for nurses. It’s caring for them, teaching them how to care for themselves so that they can care for their patients,” says Letourneau. “We want as many nurses to participate as we can get. This will only help our profession.”