We should be worried about the nurse shortage
The United States has been facing a decrease in registered nurses (RNs) and it didn’t even start with the pandemic.
For a long time, baby boomers took up a majority of the American workforce, and that included nurses. In 2015, it was predicted that over one million nurses would retire, and the pandemic didn’t prove this wrong. A lot of nurses took the pandemic as a chance to retire early, with their health being put at risk in the heat of the coronavirus spread. Nurses across the country were put on the front lines of this battle, forced to work longer hours than they usually did, and tended to those suffering with COVID-19.
Even without a pandemic cursing the planet, nurses are some of the most overworked people in the workforce. High stress levels in highly detailed practice takes a toll on nurses’ bodies. It takes years of education and training to be a registered nurse, and then they get thrown into a work environment that not every person could handle.
The nurse shortage is something that is affecting everyone across the country, not just the people in medicine. Whether you’re going to the doctors for a regular checkup or you’re going to the emergency room for a major, life-or-death situation, the first people to help you are going to be nurses. That should be something the country should see as a priority to take care of. Having the ability to rely on nurses is something everyone at some point has taken for granted. We as a country tend to overlook the incredibly hard work nurses contribute to the medical field every day taking care of our loved ones.
I have friends who are in nursing school, dedicating endless hours to studying, exams, labs, and residencies making sure they’re ready to step into their desired job, ready to take everything head on. My childhood best friend and her sister both are in nursing school and I am lucky enough to be able to hear all about their hard work, because that’s exactly what nursing is; hard work.
The coronavirus pandemic didn’t make nursing any easier. Tightly wearing masks, protective clothing and gear for well over 16 hours causes so much discomfort and stress on the body that it’s heartbreaking when nurses feel like their only way to safety is to quit the job that they’ve dedicated so much of their life to. The news and the internet were filled with nurse’s stories about working in hospitals during the height of the pandemic and how it was a nightmare.
Looking at the nursing shortage is something that is hard to see as the common citizen. Knowing that nurses in America are so overworked and probably not paid nearly as much as they deserve, is something I desperately hope the government can fix.
Although there is no easy solution, the nurse shortage should be a priority on the list of problems to fix here. The need for nurses has never been more prominent than now. I have so much respect for those studying to be a nurse.
Abby Provencal can be contacted at