Clinical Assistant Professor Ray Blush discusses the importance of adaptation, information and protecting those on the front lines

As health care professionals around the world continue providing care to patients amid unprecedented circumstances, we will explore how the U-M School of Nursing faculty is deploying its breadth of knowledge and clinical experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many U-M School of Nursing faculty members are taking on new challenges caring for patients in communities across the state of Michigan …

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Clinical Assistant Professor Ray Blush, DNP, MSN, RN, ACNP-BC, works in Michigan Medicine’s Internal Medicine Medical Observation Service. As many clinicians are reassigned to support the hospital’s dedicated COVID-19 unit, Blush is focused on continuing to treat patients with general medical issues who still require hospitalization.

During the pandemic response, Blush has moved from caring for patients in one medical observation unit to managing care in the inpatient setting throughout the hospital, working on a small team with one physician and other advanced practice providers.

“The biggest issue at this point is the need for continuous flexibility and adaptation,” he explained. “I feel the health system has done a good job staying ahead of this as much as possible, and my colleagues have stepped up and done what we always do: provide exceptional care to our patients.”

Blush recognizes the important role his students and other clinicians play in their workplaces and communities. In recent weeks, he’s stressed the importance of staying informed as patients, families and coworkers look to nurses for answers in an uncertain and evolving situation.

 “People will turn to us for information, and as leaders at the forefront of health care delivery, we all have a responsibility to stay informed and provide accurate information,” Blush said. “For all the good information that’s out there, there is a lot of misinformation as well.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is ramping up in Michigan and across the country. An influx of cases is testing the capacity of America’s health system, and Blush acknowledges a growing concern about the health and safety of hospital staff.

“Eventually, we can get more gowns, masks and ventilators. We can make more space, but finding more nurses – that’s not so easy,” he said. “Losing those who are willing to walk into the fire, often without hesitation, is something that needs to be addressed. If we lose them, this situation will escalate even more.”