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The war on COVID-19 for rural nurses

With nurses in rural America battling the war on COVID-19, Robinson encouraged the public to provide backup.

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A nurse tending to a COVID-19 patient.
WDAY file
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FARGO — “I compare it to going to war,” That’s what Nurse Research Consultant with Sanford Health, Karen Robinson, said in regard to a recent study she conducted on the experiences rural nurses faced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nineteen frontline workers took part in the study, most of them in their 20’s, single, with little experience prior to the pandemic. The findings showed the stress from work drove many nurses away from social parts of life.

"Many of them stopped watching the news, as well as social media and when you think about our group, a majority of them are in their 20s,” Robinson said. That's a group that loves social media, and for them to say we just stopped it, that's Huge."

Alone in the fight, the nurses felt they did not have a voice in their hospitals. They were isolated from their families and communities. There was nowhere to turn too.

"They felt safer at work than they did going to church, or the grocery store in those rural towns, because nobody was wearing a mask," she said.

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Robinson compared the experiences of the nurses to the same as nurses in war.

"I had personal friends and family members that were in Vietnam, and when they came back they never talked about their experiences,” She said. “They are still having some of those experiences, those nurses that were in Vietnam, and I compare that to what the frontline nurses are going through today."

With nurses in rural America battling the war on COVID-19, Robinson encouraged the public to provide backup.

"I would say to that frontline nurse, if you are struggling please get help. Talk to a coworker, talk to a supervisor, contact your employees assistance program that's confidential, but get some help,” she said.

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