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HealthAugust 02, 2021

Reflections on two essential nursing leadership roles during COVID-19

By: Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN
The Covid-19 pandemic provided the opportunity for many, if not most, nurses to reflect on their practice and place in healthcare.

It’s already well understood that the pandemic caused stress, anxiety, fear, and sadness. But there were also chances to learn and self-improve while also becoming a change agent for nursing practice.

Maureen Kroning, EdD, RN reflected on her two distinct leadership roles during Covid-19 in an article for Nursing2021. Her experiences may help other nurses realize important aspects of their own nursing roles.

What is reflective thinking?

According to the article, reflective thinking is the process of thinking about one’s actions in order to learn through or from past experiences. This type of thinking helps nurses learn from their own experiences, and it impacts every level of nursing practice. Reflective thinking can help improve nursing practice and, as a result, patient care and outcomes.

Kroning used reflective practice by observing and then assessing what was happening around her in her daily practice. She made a point to closely examine her own feelings and emotions to help develop a better understanding of her own actions.

Nursing program director reflections

Kroning worked as a program director of an associate degree nursing program, responsible for ensuring that educators met core nurse educator competencies. When the pandemic hit in 2020, her college closed suddenly. Both students and faculty had to learn and work from home. This presented a challenge for nurse educators who weren’t comfortable teaching virtually and students who were unable to seek and receive faculty input as they practiced their nursing skills in the school’s simulation laboratory.

In her program director role, Kroning needed to help support and calm students, staff, and college faculty by facilitating communication. She scheduled weekly virtual meetings so remote educators and learners could voice their concerns. Kroning was also responsible for developing alternative learning plans that detailed how students would meet their learning outcomes.

Nursing supervisor reflections

Kroning also worked as a nurse supervisor in a hospital setting during the pandemic and was responsible for ensuring safe staffing on all units within the facility. This involved converting certain units, such as telemetry units, to interim ICUs to handle critically ill Covid-19 patients. Additionally, nursing practice was converted to a team nursing model in which ICU nurses would oversee, direct, assist and help educate a team of other RNs lacking critical care experience.

As a nursing supervisor, Kroning understood this wasn’t an ideal situation, however, it was the new reality of patient care. As a supervisor, Kroning needed to make difficult decisions based on the latest COVID-19 evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the experiences of nurses on the front lines.

Looking back, Kroning realized it was more difficult for her to emphasize with her nursing students and faculty than it was with her colleagues in the hospital setting. She tried to share the experiences of staff members in acute care with those in the college setting, which did help alleviate many complaints and concerns.

In the hospital setting, Kroning also shared the experiences of nursing educators and students. This helped her identify and address practice gaps while also helping people to emphasize with others’ nursing role.

Reflective thinking ultimately helped the author practice self-improvement while also giving her an appreciation for the importance of each leadership role. These lessons were then used to help develop nursing practice to provide better quality patient care.

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Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN
Freelance Health and Medical Content Writer, Wolters Kluwer Health
Sarah has over nine years’ experience in various clinical areas, including surgery, endocrinology, family practice, and pharmaceuticals. She began writing professionally in 2016 as a way to use her medical knowledge beyond the bedside to help educate and inform healthcare consumers and providers.
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