Like many nurses, Annie Steinhauser, MSN, RN, PCCN, has seen the COVID-19 pandemic come full circle from when it first emerged as an unknown and frightening virus to the hopeful arrival of vaccines to curb its spread.
Steinhauser, who recently earned her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) on the Nursing Leadership and Administration track at Cizik School of Nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), was on the front lines at the very beginning of the pandemic. She was part of the response team that cared for COVID-19 patients aboard the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship that evacuated sick passengers to San Antonio in February 2020.
The knowledge she gained during that experience positioned her well to assist the Texas Nurses Association (TNA) COVID-19 task force with developing educational materials about the virus as part of her preceptorship.
“This past year, we’ve all been bombarded with information from so many different places,” said Steinhauser. “While much of this information may have come from well-meaning people, having a nurse as your information source meant you could trust what you were hearing. My experience as a nurse gave me the ability to synthesize the information and distill it into readable, easy-to-understand pieces.”
Working in collaboration with the TNA’s director of communications, Steinhauser produced several infographics addressing aspects of COVID-19, including:
COVID-19 vaccination types: Steinhauser created a helpful one-pager that offered explanations of how the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines differ.
Proper masking: Steinhauser’s infographic guided nurses on how to best educate their patients about mask-wearing.
Mental health personal protective equipment (PPE): Nurses quickly became educated on the types of physical PPE they needed to safeguard themselves against COVID-19, but not necessarily how to protect their mental health. Steinhauser develop an infographic outlining realistic and easy self-care measures nurses could integrate into their extremely chaotic and exhausting days.
“I found creating a list of COVID-19 vaccine myths easy enough because of the work I had done in vaccine clinics. I had heard almost every myth out there,” she said. “Contributing a resource for nurses to help dispel myths about the vaccines to their patients, family members, and friends was gratifying.”
Of all the resources she developed, working on the infographic about school safety was the most challenging and rewarding for Steinhauser.
“Through this project, I was able to meet a school nurse who was also a member of the TNA COVID-19 task force and learn directly from her about the challenges the pandemic posed in an education setting,” said Steinhauser. “I learned so much and had the opportunity to connect with a nurse from a specialty that was far different from my own.”
The school safety infographic is available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. It provides tips for nurses to share with parents and students to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic safely. It highlights the importance of social distancing, handwashing, making sure students wear well-fitted masks, and reminders about keeping children at home if they are sick or showing any symptoms. The infographic also suggests ways to make mask-wearing fun for elementary-aged students and stresses the importance of wearing masks for preteens and teenagers. It also includes advice on how to handle conversations about the pandemic, how best for adults to process their emotions, and how to support children and teens.
The materials Steinhauser created and other helpful resources are available for download on the TNA’s COVID-19 website.
“Over the semester, I had the chance to witness firsthand the work that the members and staff of the TNA do,” said Steinhauser. “I know without a doubt they are all driven by the TNA mission of empowering Texas nurses to advance the profession.”