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New Report: Recommendations for Improving National Nurse Preparedness for Pandemic Response: Early Lessons from COVID-19

Center News


June 10, 2020 – The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security released a new report that identifies gaps and inadequacies in the U.S. health system that have contributed to a lack of pandemic readiness in the nursing workforce. The report proposes recommendations for how to improve the readiness, safety, and support of nurses for COVID-19 for future potential pandemics or infectious disease emergencies.

According to the report, “Recommendations for Improving National Nurse Preparedness for Pandemic Response: Early Lessons from COVID-19,” nurses have and will continue to play a pivotal role in the COVID-19 response. Yet, compelling evidence from nurses in the field reveals a number of challenges to their efficacy, including lack of access to personal protective equipment; inadequate knowledge and skills related to pandemic response; lack of decision rights as it relates to workflow redesign, staffing decisions, and allocation of scarce resources; and a fundamental disconnect between frontline nurse and nurse executives and hospital administrators.

The report provides a series of important long- and short-term recommendations, including:

  • The US Department of Health and Human Services should examine existing federal preparedness and response strategies to identify the roles and responsibilities of nurses during a pandemic (e.g., medical countermeasure dispensing) and work with experts in nursing pandemic response to develop a plan for ways that nurses can train to execute these roles during a pandemic.
  • The Human Resources and Services Administration should fund nursing workforce development for public health emergency preparedness and response.
  • Building on the model of the Centers for Public Health Preparedness and the Public Health Emergency Response Research Centers programs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should fund a National Center for Disaster Nursing and Public Health Emergency Response to provide education and training, career development, and networking opportunities to early career nurse scientists and nursing students.
  • Schools of nursing should develop robust metrics for evaluating nurse preparedness, which should be implemented across academic and life-long learning programming.
  • The National Academy of Medicine, along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and in collaboration with nursing organizations, should convene a national workshop of interdisciplinary subject matter experts in 2020 to explore the lessons learned from the national nurse response to COVID-19 and to expand and illuminate the recommendations contained in this report.

The authors say the time to act is now to prevent illness and death from the next infectious disease emergency.

You can access the new report with executive summary here.