Nurses spend more time with patients than most other types of providers and have unique insight into patient care and the the healthcare system.

A Message from Frontline Nurses: Let’s Keep the Real Enemy in Sight

The recent protests against stay-at-home restrictions across the country are painful to watch for nurses most affected by the pandemic, those caring for COVID-19 patients. Four RNs working in hospitals in New York City who are graduate students at the Lienhard School of Nursing at Pace University decided to work together with one of their professors to share their thoughts on behalf of nurses on the front lines.

There are refrigerator trucks filled with bodies outside our hospitals. Many of us have to pass by them when we go into work, knowing that among those bodies are the patients we cared for yesterday and when we leave 12 hours later, some of the patients we cared for today will join them. Even harder to handle is the knowledge that among those bodies may be a colleague or friend, fellow nurses who caught COVID-19 while caring for others. It is heartbreaking and terrifying because we know that we too could end up in a body bag shelved in a refrigerator […]

Two Poems by an ED Nurse


         -from Latin, masca (specter, nightmare)

My borrowed face,

incorporeal,                blue—

I give you        only

my eyes.

First Sunday on the Ward, Pandemic

Deft swallows nest inside the thorny crown of a stone Christ.

I whisper Our Father . . .                   


over the scrub sink.


-Editor’s note: These two spare poems were sent to us recently by Stacy Nigliazzo, an ED nurse and poet whose work has been featured in JAMA and the Bellevue Literary Review, as well as in AJN’s Art of Nursing column. We don’t usually publish poems on this blog, but make an exception here because they seemed to us urgent and yet timeless. Publishing them implies no affiliation of AJN with any particular religion. At the same time, it’s only natural that faiths and practices of every sort are likely to be a source of strength and meaning during this time for nurses around the world. 

2020-04-10T13:39:42-04:00April 10th, 2020|Nursing, nursing perspective|1 Comment

Preserving Integrity and Staying Power as a Nurse in a Pandemic

We are in unprecedented times—uncertainty and fear are ever present and nurses are being called to serve others in ways that challenge our appraisal of benefit to our patients and risk to our families’ health and well-being. Many of us are experiencing varying degrees of moral distress and moral outrage arising from the gaps between what we ought to be doing and what we are actually doing under these adverse conditions. It can feel as if it is impossible to do ‘the right thing.’

What can we do to remain whole in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis? How can we accept what seems unacceptable?

Instead of using precious energy in unproductive ways, we can focus on the things that are within our control for meeting the demands of the situation with integrity.

Recognize your moral distress.

It’s easy to get swept away with fear. When fear takes over, we can become paralyzed—unable to think clearly or to act in accordance with our values. One […]

COVID-19: On and On

A note from AJN’s editor-in-chief Shawn Kennedy.

Published: March 30. As I write this, the United States has over 140,000 COVID-19 cases and over 2,400 deaths, and we’re told those numbers have yet to peak. The US Navy hospital ship Comfort is on it’s way to New York City, bringing its 1,000 beds to be used as a supplemental hospital. Its sister ship Mercy is on its way to Los Angeles. Bedside nurses and CNOs alike talk about the “war zone” that their hospitals have become. And they’re exhausted: many ICU nurses are working five days of 12-hour shifts as they await help from nurses who are getting crash courses in ventilator management.

Perspectives for and by nurses, from many angles.

Our goals during this pandemic are to serve as a reliable and up-to-date source of information and advocacy for those on the front line, to bear witness and give nurses and other health workers a voice during these uncertain times.

We’ve been using this blog to bring you evidence-based information about the COVID-19 pandemic, mostly via posts by our clinical editor Betsy Todd, whose expertise is in public health and infectious disease. She has done a yeoman’s job, researching the latest information and ensuring what we publish on PPE and COVID-19 is […]

Moral Courage in a Pandemic: a 14th Century Physician and Health Care Workers Today

What does it mean to be human? What values should we live by? How should we respond to those in need during a time of crisis? What would I do?

A physician during the Black Death.

Guy de Chauliac

As a hospice social worker who loves the humanities, I find that historical figures often come to mind when there’s a parallel with things that are happening with patients and their families. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about a 14th century French physician named Guy de Chauliac.

Although little known today, in his time he was one of Europe’s most respected medical practitioners. In fact, his text Chirurgia Magna was a standard part of medical education for 200 years.