It wasn’t called “social distancing,” but long before Covid-19 began taking its toll, many sectors of the healthcare ecosystem were becoming much less personal in nature.

Not so for the nurses.

Talk to a nurse today and you’ll hear accounts of doing whatever it takes…of a relentless pursuit of patient-oriented solution…and of unspeakable heartbreak when solutions cannot be found.

By any measure, nurses form the front-lines of healthcare services around the world. In hours of crisis, natural disasters and yes, a global pandemic, it is the personal care provided by nurses that is the connection to healthcare most people experience most often. Nurses are the nerve center of healthcare.

Covid only brings this reality into sharper focus.

The INSider newsletter shares poignant accounts of nurses in action in the midst of Covid-19. Sue Nittler, RN, BSN, CRNI is a hospice infusion team leader. Her story is the story of thousands of nurses over the past few months.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how we work. Our volume of infusion patients has tripled since before the pandemic started.”

Today nearly four million registered nurses make up the largest sector of healthcare professionals in the United States. Serving patients from birth through death, they provide the continuity and support that keeps healthcare connected to a population.

And nurses are an increasingly diverse group.

Long an arena where women dominated the ranks, representative of its connection to the communities served, the face of nursing in the US is changing. And the change is far from the inclusion of men.

According to statistics from American Nurses Association, nearly one-third of RN’s in the US today are members of a minority group. But indicative of a leadership mentality, no one is acting as though this is satisfactory. The pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion are critical to nurses and nursing leaders for one reason — because greater diversity results in more empathetic personal care.

Shaping Innovation 

While it is tempting to rely on thought leadership from industry ivory towers, improvements and new creations in technology, and advances on scientific fronts as the foundational elements of the ecosystem of the future, the transformation of healthcare is already being driven by the nurses. Here’s more from Sue’s story.

“The pandemic has definitely been a roller coaster of emotions for me. However, I have learned valuable lessons on how to use my electronics more efficiently. I have also made great connections with the hospice nurses that I support, who are doing the hard work in the field. I applaud their professionalism, courage and great caring for the patients and families that we serve at end of life.”

Driven by a heart for patients in their charge that is coupled with medical acumen and a problem-solving perspective that is honed by first hand experiences, nurses are already reshaping the front-lines. It is difficult to imagine that any enduring evolution will take shape without the compassion, commitment, knowledge and skills of the women and men who serve us as nurses.