Nurse forum is a safe place to talk about the pandemic — the good, bad and ugly

A nurse forum has become a refuge for nurses — a safe place to connect and discuss the COVID-19 crisis. Some reach out with ideas and hope, while others share grave concerns.

All of this is happening on the Frontline Nurses WikiWisdom Forum, an online crowd sourcing platform reserved for nurses that encourages conversation without fear of retribution from employers or others. Nurses monitoring the nurse forum plan to harness data from the current crowd sourcing phase and publish a report when the pandemic passes.

Cynda Rushton, RN

Cynda Hylton Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor of clinical ethics and nursing and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, spearheaded the forum because of concerns that many nurses are feeling isolated and reluctant to share their perspectives in their own organizations.

“We wanted to create a space where nurses could come together and actually learn from each other and be supported by each other,” Rushton said. “At the same time, they could help shape the future by thinking about how we can learn from this experience and be better prepared for the next pandemic or next crisis.”

Rushton said nurses are the front-line providers who are trying to adapt to the ever-changing environment. “This is a platform that allows us to harness that wisdom,” Rushton said.

Get a preview of nurse forum

Nurse forum visitors who aren’t signed up can get a glimpse of conversations. On April 20, for example, nurses were responding to the question: “Based on your experience as a front-line nurse dealing with COVID-19, what are your challenges, ethical dilemmas and fears?”

One nurse responded COVID-19 was by far the biggest challenge of her nursing career. She and her husband are both nurses and worried about being able to keep working and raise their children. Other nurses discussed the needs for more personal protective equipment stockpiling and ongoing training for a crisis of this magnitude.

Nurses are sharing a broad range of personal experiences. While some contemplate leaving their careers or jobs, others focus on the incredible camaraderie in the midst of this history-making pandemic, according to Rushton.

Common themes include that front-line nurses are afraid of putting their families at risk, according to Theresa Brown, RN, clinical faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing and author of “The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives.”

nurse forum - Theresa Brown, RN

Theresa Brown, RN

“Nurses are sharing their frustration,” Brown said. “As one said, like the ‘lowest common denominator,’ by which this nurse meant that nurses were not given PPE that doctors were given.”

Her role in the forum includes developing ideas, promoting the site, responding to posts, helping nurses feel supported and setting the framework for the final report.

“Nurses also feel the lack of nursing leadership in preparations for and ongoing management of the pandemic,” Brown said.

Brown said she is surprised …read more

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