Emergency and intensive care unit nurses are the main workforce fighting against COVID-19. Their professional identity may affect whether they can actively participate and be competent in care tasks during the pandemic.
To examine the level of and changes in professional identity of Chinese emergency and intensive care unit nurses as the COVID-19 pandemic builds.
A cross-sectional survey composed of the Professional Identity Scale for Nurses plus 2 open-ended questions was administered to Chinese emergency and intensive care unit nurses through an online questionnaire.
Emergency and intensive care unit nurses had a medium level of professional identity. Participants’ total and item mean scores in 5 professional identity dimensions were higher than the professional identity norm established by Liu (P < .001). The greatest mean item score difference was in the dimension of professional identity evaluation (3.57 vs 2.88, P < .001). When asked about their feelings witnessing the COVID-19 situation and their feelings about participating in frontline work, 68.9% and 83.9%, respectively, reported positive changes in their professional identity.
The professional identity of emergency and intensive care unit nurses greatly improved during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. This finding may be attributed to more public attention and recognition of nurses’ value, nurses’ professional fulfillment, and nurses’ feelings of being supported, motivated, respected, and valued.