Grad student studies long-term respiratory effects of COVID-19
AU Master of Nursing student uses experience as a registered nurse to shape research on long-term respiratory effects of COVID-19
An Athabasca University (AU) Master of Nursing – Generalist student is studying the long-term effects of COVID-19 to better understand patients’ needs and improve care.
As part of his research, Cameron Albright is interviewing people over the age of 18 who have had specific post-COVID-19 respiratory conditions. Such complications often require ongoing oxygen therapy.
During the pandemic, Albright was a registered nurse in a Nova Scotia hospital COVID-19 ward. In that role, he observed that many of his patients still had long-term respiratory problems post-infection.
“We were really focused on the acute care needs of people. However, following a COVID-19 wave, we were left with people suffering with long-term effects of their infection… which was often very complex,” said Albright.
“We were really focused on the acute care needs of people. However, following a COVID-19 wave, we were left with people suffering with long-term effects of their infection... which was often very complex.”– Cameron Albright, AU Master of Nursing – Generalist student
These long-term complications weren’t just affecting the older adult population. He has seen patients as young as 40 with respiratory complications.
Albright is using those experiences to shape his thesis research topic and raise awareness of the long-term effects of the coronavirus. He hopes his work can help nurses better understand the needs of patients with this chronic condition. It’s an area of research that is under-studied, he said.
During his work in the COVID-19 ward, Albright observed that patients who recovered from respiratory complications were still living with a significant amount of disability.
“When we were planning their discharge to go home, they often required ongoing oxygen therapy and had trouble breathing,” he said.
“These uncomfortable respiratory symptoms were affecting many parts of their life and I wondered what happened to these people after they left the hospital setting.”
Albright also wanted to know what nurses could do to help patients improve their health and well-being.
When it came time to formulate the topic for his research, he knew this was an area that he was passionate about.
“It’s becoming clearer that there are many different types of long-COVID. Some people predominantly have respiratory problems and there’s some that are mostly neurological. I’m focusing specifically on people with respiratory complications,” he said.
“It’s becoming clearer that there are many different types of long-COVID. Some people have predominantly respiratory problems and there's some that are mostly neurological. I'm focusing specifically on people with respiratory complications.”
Starting his thesis research
Albright and his supervisors recently published a literature review—an analysis of other scholarly work—as the first part of his thesis research.
Dr. Jacqueline Limoges, one of Albright’s thesis supervisors, said it has been exciting to see Albright identify similar concerns to the ones raised by health-care providers in her own research conducted during the pandemic.
“Cameron’s research on the care needs of people experiencing the long-term consequences of COVID-19 is important and impactful work that will help ease the burden of the pandemic,” she said.
Balancing work and research
Albright said that navigating the burnout of nursing during the pandemic has been a challenge for him and many others in the profession.
“To this day, whenever I put on an N95 mask, I can picture myself working in the COVID ward and remember the visuals. My face would get bruised from wearing the mask all day,” he said.
“To this day, whenever I put on an N95 mask, I can picture myself working in the COVID ward and remember the visuals. My face would get bruised from wearing the mask all day.”
Being able to continue his education from home has helped with finding balance between work and school.
“I have had a great experience throughout my education here. It’s online education, and AU is really good at what they do.”
Albright credits his thesis advisors, Limoges and Dr. Gwen Rempel, for acting as academic and professional supports. “I am forever grateful and indebted to them.”
Learn more about the Master of Nursing-Generalist at AU.