Covid: the learning curve
Health Minister Dorothy Shepard was quoted in Savannah Awde’s article on March 23rd as suggesting perhaps a correlation between outbreaks in long term care facilities and learning curve. I expect she was suggesting that staff had to learn about proper use of PPE and other elements in mitigating spread of infection in care facilities.
She made a good point. For everyone in the health and long-term care systems, and their regulators, the Departments of Health and Social Development, the learning curve has been long, steep, and difficult. In the early days of pandemic, mid-March 2020, all that the worldwide Scientific community knew for sure was that there was a bad virus on the loose, originating in Wuhan, China where that government’s official line, as recorded in the Wuhan Diary, was: “Not contagious between people; it’s controllable and preventable.”
“Nursing education has been a key factor in the quality of health care throughout Canada’s history, and the quality of education for nurses has been a major focus for the CASN throughout its considerably shorter history. The progress in educational standards has clearly been substantial since Dr. Mack first established his training school in 1875. History suggests, however, that this progress is always tenuous and subject to erosion or subversion by external forces. The overriding goal set by the Association’s founding members for nurse educators to join together and present a strong voice in support of quality in nursing education continues to be as relevant in today’s complex environment as it was in 1942.”
This was the conclusion in a most interesting history of nursing education entitled “Ties that Bind”, published by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing, 2012.
And, so, it has been since the early days of the Grey Nuns and the Sisters of St. Joseph in their early work centuries ago in Quebec which preceded Dr. Mack’s first School of Nursing in St. Catherine’s, Ontario in 1874. Then other nursing schools opened in major cities, including Halifax, NS, shortly thereafter.
In those days the medical and nursing professions worked together in changing the face of health care and introducing formalized and much-improved training for nurses and physicians. The Flexner Report published in 1910 set the tone for what we now know as strong, university-based education for physicians and nurses. Up to that point, for both professions, education was really based on the apprenticeship system with hospitals relying on both medical and nursing students to provide essential care for patients.
How did we get here? “Nursing education has been a key factor in the quality of health care throughout Canada’s history, and the quality of education for nurses has been a major focus for the CASN throughout its considerably shorter history. The progress in educational standards has clearly been substantial since Dr. Mack first established his training school in 1875.” The Tie that Binds report, produced by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing in 2012, is a fascinating history of how we got here!
In any superb health system, there are a few key ingredients, factors that are essential for quality and public satisfaction. Nursing is one of the big ones! It has always been thus since Florence Nightingale.
In New Brunswick, government and the profession and universities have some issues to resolve if the profession is to grow and develop in a manner that will meet public need and the need of employing organizations. In recent years the public has been exposed to much publicity about violence in the workplace, overworked, stressed nurses, large numbers of impending retirements with insufficient persons being trained to fill the positions, nurses without full-time jobs, unemployed Nurse Practitioners……and more.
Ken McGeorge, BS,DHA,CHE is a career health care executive based in Fredericton, NB, Canada.