The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Canadian nurses. Succeeding waves have led to increased levels of depression, anxiety, traumatic symptoms, and burnout among nurses. Staff shortages are now being reported as nurses change units, change workplaces or leave the profession. However, anecdotal reports suggest that enrollment in Canadian nursing programs is higher than it was pre-pandemic. Previous research has shown that new nursing graduates are especially vulnerable to leaving the profession within the first two years following graduation; being thrust into the pandemic working conditions may exacerbate an exodus of these novice nurses. Interviews conducted by our team in the spring of 2020 and 2021 suggest that nurses working in hospitals did not feel prepared to face the mental, social, and physical challenges of working under pandemic conditions
The goal of this project is to create and pilot a training program that will prepare nursing students to work during this pandemic and/or other extreme healthcare crises. The program will consist of 10 training modules combining online content and in-person practice; topics may include trauma, burnout, moral distress, self-care and resiliency, working with racialized patients during COVID, and stigma. Content will be reviewed both by mental health experts, nursing students, and nurses currently working in the field to ensure that it is appropriate to the needs of nurses working under extreme healthcare crises. Both qualitative and quantitative data will be collected to determine the impact of the program on self-efficacy, resiliency, confidence, and knowledge of mental health/coping strategies. The program will also be piloted at partner sites to ensure its utility and applicability across nursing programs. The goal will be to make training materials available to other nursing programs across Canada, and eventually develop online modules for nurses who did not receive this training while in university.