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A Special Invitation to Publish: COVID-19 and Rehabilitation Nursing

In her first President's Message of 2021, Dr. Patricia Quigley calls on rehabilitation nurses to fill in gaps within existing COVID-19 research literature by publishing their stories, and, in doing so, assert the vital role of rehabilitation nurses in the care of COVID patients, their families, and their caregivers.

Dear Colleagues,

Throughout 2020, a difficult and ever-changing year, you remained resilient, compassionate, and exceptional when so much was asked of you. You have provided extraordinary rehabilitation nursing care to so many patients and residents during this pandemic. Together, you learned to identify and address the rehabilitation nursing needs of COVID-19 patients in isolated and quarantined environments.

I have heard from you and learned from you. I have heard your stories of patients at death's door due to COVID-19 who survived, transferred from intensive care units to medical units, and made it to your rehabilitation units—acute and post-acute rehabilitation care. Patients and residents who eventually walked or wheeled out the door to home with home healthcare and outpatient rehabilitation.

The news has kept us up to date with COVID-19 disease spread, hospitalizations, and deaths across the world. I suggest that 2021 be the year for rehabilitation nurses to publish our stories of people surviving and recovering from COVID-19, including processes for setting up COVID-19 rehabilitation units, best clinical practices, redesigned competency requirements, and nursing and patient outcomes. 2021 is the year to assert the vital role of rehabilitation nurses in the care of these patients, their families, and their caregivers.

The medical community has fast-tracked publications of COVID-19 disease states, complications, treatments, and outcomes. In March 2020, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) asserted the importance of rehabilitation in improving the health outcomes of patients with severe cases of COVID-19 and the benefits of health services. They anticipated and detailed rehabilitation interventions during acute, sub-acute, and long-term rehabilitation phases of care. In the specialty of rehabilitation, we already have articles that anticipate the population needs for rehabilitation following COVID-19 as well as the need for specialty inpatient rehabilitation, including Sheehy (2020) and Wade (2020).

Wade asserts that many individuals who suffer severe COVID-19 disease will experience functional deficits that require rehabilitation to restore and maximize functional outcomes. Sheehy has suggested design procedures for inpatient rehabilitation units for post-acute COVID-19 patient rehabilitation; staffing issues for physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language therapy; and outpatient rehabilitation. Other articles advocate for their role in the rehabilitation of this vulnerable population, such as World Physiotherapy (2020). 

Rehab nurses: We want to hear from you 

Missing are rehabilitation nurses' articles, case studies, and best practices in the design, implementation, and evaluation of COVID-19 rehabilitation nursing units.

I write to inspire you to set a goal in 2021 to write and publish articles, especially case studies. Case studies provide records of clinical care delivery and interventions that are invaluable when caring for emerging new populations. They serve as a basis for education, clinical guidelines, and even future clinical studies. Guidelines exist to help you assemble a writing team and prepare case study manuscripts, such as Budgell (2008) and in the journal Clinical Case Studies.

ARN's Rehabilitation Nursing Journal (RNJ) publishes on a wide range of administration, research, and clinical topics that include COVID-19 and rehabilitation nursing. Information to guide your manuscript preparation is available at your fingertips: RNJ information for authors.

Rehabilitation nurses, you are positioned to make an impact on patient outcomes, changing the current themes from disease occurrence, hospitalization, and death to rehabilitation, recovery, and restoration.

ARN's 2014 Competency Model for Rehabilitation Nursing provides the theoretical framework for our practice and for publications that address nurse-led interventions, interprofessional care, leadership, and the promotion of successful living. These are the domains of rehabilitation nursing practice that I am confident you can apply in your practice and care delivery for the COVID-19 population and that are worthy of publication and national dissemination.

This new year, 2021, ARN celebrates 47 years advancing the practice, science, and policy influence of rehabilitation nursing. I again invite you to assemble your writing team, review the resources ARN has to help you, and start writing! RNJ is waiting for your submission.

Happy New Year,


President, Association of Rehabilitation Nurses

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