J.C.TANG1, YONGXING. P LIN1, E-Y CHAN1
Tan Tock Seng Hospital1
With the surge in COVID-19 cases requiring critical care, nurses may be deployed into the intensive care units (ICUs). Having experienced through SARS, hospitals in Singapore instituted upskilling programs to secure general ward nurses’ competency in providing critical care nursing. The sudden change in roles and responsibilities warrants this study, which is aimed to explore the perceived preparedness and psychosocial wellbeing of general ward nurses prior to deployment into the outbreak ICUs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A qualitative descriptive study was conducted at Singapore’s epicentre of COVID-19 management. Five focus groups were conducted following purposive sampling of 30 general ward nurses. Focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and data thematically analysed.
Three salient themes arose, exemplifying the transition from clinical experts in the general wards to practicing novices in the outbreak ICUs. “Into the deep end of the pool” described general ward nurses’ feelings of anxiety and stress associated with higher exposure risk and expanded responsibilities to nurse critically ill patients. “Preparing for ‘war’” illustrated deployed nurses’ need for clear communication and essential critical care nursing training. “Call of duty” affirmed the nurses’ personal and professional commitment to embrace this transition into the ICUs, and their desire for greater psychosocial support.
Though general ward nurses perceived their impending ICU deployment positively, they required ongoing support to facilitate a smoother transition. Findings provided an evidence base to improve preparedness of general ward nurses deployed into the ICUs during the COVID-19 pandemic within key areas of training, information dissemination and psychosocial resilience.