P.Y.NG1, H.S.KHOR1, A.B.M.Z.MOHD1, S.F.YAP1
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital1
Rapid deployment of nurses towards surge capacity in critical care is necessary to meet the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 pandemic. This study seeks to explore the experiences and perceptions deployed nurses had towards their deployment in ICU, and identify strategies to better support them.
Five focus groups involving a purposive sample of 22 registered nurses was conducted and all interview transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis.
Five themes and fourteen sub-themes have emerged: “emotional trajectories during deployment”, “challenges faced by deployed nurses”, “rising to the challenge”, “supporting nurses though the deployment” and “building a pandemic-ready workforce”.
Anxiety and stress arising from the sudden disruption of daily lives and fear of unknown were common among deployed nurses amid the pandemic. Perceived social isolation and burnout could arise from the lack of physical interaction with their loved ones. Many also developed frustrations towards the prolonged deployment. Nevertheless, the availability of learning opportunities and meaningful working interactions have enriched their deployment experience and improve job satisfaction. Self-resilience, ICU crash course, on-the-job training and a supportive work environment were found to ease transition stress and overcome the steep learning curve. Infection threat were mitigated by the adequacy of personal protective equipment, which provided great assurance and confidence. All of these highlight the importance of addressing the pandemic fatigue among healthcare workers by enhancing self-coping strategies through resilience-building, and strengthening social support and communication network to diminish uncertainty and frustrations. Routine deployment of nurses to ICU is also necessary to ensure readiness for urgent redeployment.