When the Covid-19 pandemic started, it reminded us how we all depended on our nurses. From the first day of the pandemic and until now, we still depend on them.
Our nation's 4.3 million registered nurses work on every aspect of health care and are very crucial in delivering care, evolving health care systems locally and nationally. But, because of the pandemic nursing shortages are already rampant in our country. Adding to that, are the factors such as economic downturns, waves of retiring nurses and increase of health care demands.
According to the American Nurses Association, more RN jobs are expected to be available this year than any other profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 9% job growth for registered nurses from 2020 to 2030, that will not be enough for the expected loss of nurses in the profession ( most due to retirement). They said that an expected average of 194,500 RN jobs would be open yearly with in 2020 and 2030. The nursing force are aging out. The 2020 National Workforce Survey showed that the median age of nurses retiring are 52. Nurses 65 and older make up 19% of the workforce, and 20% of the workforce plans to retire within 5 years.
One of the factors contributing to this shortage are the lack of nurse educators. Student enrollment in this field increased in 2020, but more than 10,000 qualified applicants were turned away due to nursing faculty shortage according to a 2021 American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) report. According to them, 6.5% vacancy rate of nursing faculty was reported.
Many of our nurses have experienced stress and trauma on a daily basis which affects their mental health, job satisfaction and overall quality of life. Awareness and education on self-care for nurses has become a priority on the field.
Bonnie Fuller, Certified Nurse Educator, School of Nursing in Purdue University Global said that " many studies tell us that it is more than money that keeps nurses in the profession. Employers who promote self-care and healthy work environments are also on the rise as we battle nurse burnout and compassion fatigue."
In order to harness the full potential of our nurses and the nursing profession, we need to address issues such as:
1. Building an adequate supply of nurses.
2. Creating safe, empowering, and healthy work environments.
3. Public policy that supports quality healthcare;
4. Laws and regulations that enable nurses to practice at the full extent of their education and licensure.
The need of nurses in our country is plenty. But, if we don't take care of them in such a way that they are happy and contented with their work can greatly affect the number of nurses who will be available in our healthcare systems.