Supporting Frontline Staff During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Am J Nurs. 2021 Sep 1;121(9):46-55. doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000790632.18077.c1.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that emerged in early 2020 put unprecedented physical, mental, and emotional strain on the staff of health care organizations, who have been caring for a critically ill patient population for more than a year and a half. Amid the ongoing pandemic, health care workers have struggled to keep up with new information about the disease, while also coping with the anxiety associated with caring for affected patients. It has also been a continual challenge for nurse leaders to provide adequate support for staff members and keep them informed about frequently changing practices and protocols. In this article, nursing leaders at an academic medical center in Boston reflect on the initial COVID-19 patient surge, which occurred from March to June 2020, and identify key actions taken to provide clinical and emotional support to frontline staff who cared for these patients. Lessons learned in this period provide insight into the management of redeployed staff, use of emotional support and debriefing, and relationship between access to information and staff morale. The knowledge gained through these initial experiences has been a vital resource as health care workers continue to face challenges associated with the ongoing pandemic.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / organization & administration*
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / nursing*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • SARS-CoV-2