HealthJuly 06, 2020

Avoid the rip current of a second COVID wave

For most, summer means time for sun, sand, and surf. It may also mean a slow to the spread of the coronavirus. However, Dr. Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Center for Communicable Dynamics, cautions that according to his research, warmer weather only reduces transmission rates by about 20% (AMA 2020). A second wave of COVID-19 seems imminent, whether it be in the fall as originally predicted or earlier as communities open up and people become less vigilant about wearing masks, physical distancing, and other pandemic mitigation strategies.

Prepared for a second wave?

Is your facility prepared for a second wave of Covid-19? The first wave caught many health care facilities in a rip current fighting to staff critical care units filled with critically ill patients battling Covid-19. Nurses were rapidly on-boarded to critical care from such units as the GI procedures, interventional radiology, and the post-anesthesia care with limited training. With ICU admissions declining in many areas, now may be the perfect time to cross-train staff in preparation for an impending second wave.

Cross-training isn't just about gaining new skills

Cross-training assists nurses in developing new skills and increasing their knowledge by exposing them to patients in other units who have different conditions and acuity. It also gives nurses experience with different technologies and workflows. Cross-trained nurses subsequently gain confidence in their ability to deliver safe, effective care when they're needed to support staffing in other units.

New skills and increased knowledge aren't the only benefits to cross-training. Those who serve as preceptors during the cross-training process develop pride in their unit. They also cultivate relationships with the nurses they're cross-training. These relationships improve communication between units and help nurses have a better understanding of the situations that often arise in other units.

Nurses who participate in cross-training often become more flexible because their experience enables them to adapt to various situations. They're less likely to be stressed by a change in patient assignment, equipment, or patient condition because they can draw on their cross-training experiences. Moreover, their adaptability makes them better teammates because they often remain calm during the storm of change.

Opportunity to explore

Cross-training provides an opportunity for nurses to explore other specialties for which they have interest. This experience can help nurses make informed decisions about their career path. Cross-training not only promotes professional growth but makes staff more marketable in the job market when pursuing other opportunities.

Are you cross-training staff in preparation for the impending second wave of Covid-19? If so, how are you doing with the cross-training? What strategies have you found helpful that you could share with colleagues?

Lippincott Solutions note: for the latest coverage on Covid-19 by the Lippincott Nursing team, please visit


Hanley, M., et al., (2007). Project XTREME: Model for health professionals™ cross-training for mass casualty respiratory needs.

Manelski, M.J, et al., (2013). The pearls and peris of cross-training: A collaboration of antepartum and labor and delivery room nurses.

Strazewskli, L. (2020). Harvard epidemiologist: Beware Covid-19™ second wave this fall.

About the author

Collette Bishop Hendler, RN, MS, MA, CIC, Editor-in-Chief, Lippincott Solutions, Point-of-Care, is certified by the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. as an infection preventionist. She has more than 15 years of experience in critical care nursing and maintains Alumnus Status as a Critical-Care Registered Nurse.

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