Every day, thousands of Alberta registered nurses go to the frontlines of COVID-19, to our hospitals, long-term care homes, and communities. They go even though there is much they do not know about the virus and how it spreads. They are learning about it daily.
At his home, Matthew Douma, a registered nurse, researcher, and educator, is working “early in the morning and late at night” to fill the information gaps on COVID-19. He says, “registered nurses are all working, doing their part to battle against the pandemic, even those on parental leave like me.”
Douma is part of an international team developing and writing new curriculum for EPICC (www.covid19.epicclearning.ca). EPICC is a free, online, open source program that provides up-to-date, evidence-based, critical care knowledge and skills for any nurse fighting COVID-19.
When nurses visit the EPICC site, they can access information on a variety of subjects, including, but not limited to, transport of patients with COVID-19, infection control and personal protective equipment, and oxygenation and ventilation. Information is presented in a quick and easy-to-understand manner, using handy checklists and cheat sheets.
“This information can be used to upskill new nursing graduates, provide refreshers to nurses returning to work, and prepare other professionals to take on work related to COVID-19,” says Douma.
Douma explains much of this work and the work of researchers and educators is unpaid, acknowledging it is a “work of passion.” He does it when not caring for his three preschool children, aged five, three and 10 months. Matthew’s partner, Katherine Smith, is an emergency physician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton and is, herself, on the frontlines of the pandemic.
The Role of ARNET
Douma has twice accessed funding from ARNET to support completion of his post-graduate specialty training in critical care and a master’s degree in nursing.
He sees the creation of ARNET’s Nurses Pandemic Education Fund as an exciting opportunity for nurses to learn more about data science – extracting knowledge and insights from structured and unstructured data.
“Nurses do a good job of understanding patient’s needs and telling their stories. Now is the time for nurses to examine and mine health services data to better describe the impact nurses make and uncover emerging health care issues.”
For example, Matthew is supervising a project using emergency department triage data to describe the effect the pandemic is having on emergency department operations and chronic illness management.
A Leader in Nursing Research
Matthew is also engaged in resuscitation research that could prove invaluable for those treating patients with COVID-19.
He leads an online, international resuscitation science collaborative that aims to create a community of people who can provide and teach resuscitation aid where conventional methods fail.
He is working with colleagues to determine how a change in a patient’s body position impacts the ability of clinicians to recognize and respond to cardiac arrest, and to understand the effect of providing chest compressions to patients in the prone position. The overall aim is to provide guidance for clinicians working to resuscitate patients, including those treating patients with COVID-19, as well as future viruses and pandemics.