Syra Health

Nurses are at the forefront of the fightback: The nursing deficit is substantial and is expected to worsen

During COVID-19, the biggest repeated survey of registered nurses ever conducted, aggregated by their employers, gives fresh insights on the degree of nursing burnout and accompanying poor patient outcomes. It describes the pandemic's disastrous employment settings as the unavoidable result of years of insufficient staffing policy before the outbreak.

The survey, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing's Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research (CHOPR), polled over 70,000 licensed registered nurses in New York and Illinois just before COVID-19 struck and 18 months later as the pandemic reached its peak in the United States. Over 69% of hospital nurses in both states acknowledged a lack of confidence in hospital administration to tackle clinical care concerns noted by nurses prior to the pandemic in their survey replies. During the epidemic, that level of scepticism grew to 78%.

According to a recent survey by technology-based nursing hiring platform Incredible Health, burnout and stress from working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic are taking a significant toll on nurses, with more than one-third (34%) saying it's very likely that they will leave their roles by the end of 2022. Burnout and a high-stress atmosphere were given as reasons for 4 in 10 wanting to leave. Nurses reported perks and income as the second most common reason for leaving their employment (27%).

Alternative care methods are being adopted slowly. Although acute and ambulatory settings have been sluggish to embrace novel forms of treatment, the success of float pools during the pandemic provides a potential for growth. In the acute environment, 92% of respondents want to install or expand float pools during the next 18 months.

Nurses also face a lack of flexibility. Despite widespread reports of exhaustion, respondents foresee little change in shift time following the epidemic. The typical shift for nurses in acute and post-acute settings remains 12 hours, and eight hours in ambulatory settings.

This has serious implications, particularly for long-term care. First, whether or not the United States faces a recession in the near future, the power dynamic between nursing facilities and the pool of caregivers has transformed in the long run. As these facilities compete for scarce labor, they must change how they recruit and manage that personnel.

Action must be made to address the staffing shortage, appropriately invest in public health and care services, and pay nurses what they are worth. We at Syra Health will continue to fight alongside all health and care workers for improved wages, terms, and conditions.

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