Nursing Shortage

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4 Articles; 2,394 Posts

Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC. Has 11 years experience.

I think there are so many parts of the profession that people outside of nursing don't understand. We were all heroes for about 15 minutes in the pandemic, and then within months we were being vilified for many things. Nurses that tried to have some fun during their shift by making silly videos or such things, others portrayed as lazy when seen on their phones during a shift. Just like with amazon reviews, people will rarely talk about good nurses they have during a stay, but the one bad thing that happens will be blasted from the rooftops and often aimed right at a nurse.

Many nurses are frustrated. Administrators and managers often got enormous "covid bonuses" from their offices while those that are the face of patient care get very little. The do more with less philosophy that seemed necessary at the time is now in many cases because organizations aren't willing to pay what they should because we were able to survive with less. But that doesn't mean it's right. 

The two hospitals that I work at right now are over 100% census. Every bed is occupied and the ED has more than 50 people being seen with wait times in the hours in the waiting rooms. Every single shift this past weekend nurses at one of my hospitals were mandated. A few for 16 hours on Saturday only to come back and do it again on Sunday. They're exhausted and frustrated.  


465 Posts

Has 20 years experience.

When I started nursing a million years ago there was a "nursing shortage" leadership at my hospital met with us to look for ways to improve moral and retention, the meeting started with them stating "we will not discuss pay rates, pay is not the issue the issues is morale".....OK then.

Fast forward and we have experienced preceptors being paid barely more per hour than the new grads they are training, nurses being pressured to obtain BSN/MSN qualifications with barely any increase in pay, new grads being expected to sign contracts to repay not only the sign on bonuses but also the cost of their (cough) training if they leave prior to X many years despite being in work at will states and staffing levels that routinely include charge nurses taking a full load and ICU nurses being doubled or trippled every shift. 

The only surprising thing here is that we don't have more of a "shortage". I saw a great meme on a  social media site recently.

"My flight is delayed because we are waiting on a crew member". Why? Because it's not safe to fly without appropriate staffing. Why don't the hospitals have safety standards like this??


Specializes in Pediatrics, Emergency, Trauma. Has 18 years experience.

Like a poster stated...there has been a nursing shortage for DECADES. 

I entered the profession in's was a shortage and to take 1/2 a unit with the charge nurse, pass meds and turn them-the patients were SCI (Spinal Cord Injured) on night shifts, my other job was private duty pediatric home health. I was able to get two jobs and in hindsight, they wanted a body...but I made sure I had training, enough orientation because I was a new nurse, and needed to help my family out at the time...but I wasn't going to lose my license the minute I got IT-a licensed is a PRIVILEGE-ALWAYS. I was able to basically set my schedule and be in "charge" of my career. 

Now, 15 years later-in 2020-I matured as a nurse...I had (and currently) advocate for not only patients but nurses as a bargaining unit officer, I mentor, get involved with committees, etc, survived COVID...and the anguish and trauma that had a lot of nurses make decisions to change the way they nurse-travel, retire, take a break...I'm still here but seem to come full circle on what I want my career to be-In 2021 I pursued my Masters and (hopefully) graduate in a few months with my MSN in Nursing Education...I want to be a "normal" person-my son is 3 months and I want to have the work life balance...I want to have time to continue to advocate for safe staffing investment in our healthcare structure and still be at the beside in some way. It's doable because I learned to do it early in my career; now, it's different...

I have my professional opinion of my career-so far-as a nurse who started new in "the shortage" and continues to work in "the shortage”…you've seen the research, you have  the opinions...what are your thoughts entering into a profession that strives to advocate for patients and themselves while in an impossible structure, against a public as a whole that have been divested and a system at its PAST breaking point? What can you see of value to join the profession, and why a lot of us stayed so long, stay and keep going and try to have a shred of resiliency at such a critical time? 

I want nurses to come back to the bedside, I understand why people left, change specialties, etc...change is GOOD. I understand those like me who stay...we the NURSES are going to right this ship, by any means necessary, however it may take telling THE TRUTH and some coalition building from everyone for this to happen. But it's gonna be one HELLUVA dogfight. 

Tweety, BSN, RN

32,751 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 31 years experience.

I live in Florida in a county that is growing in population and the schools can't supply enough nurses, but also some of the people moving here include nurses but that's still not enough.

I don't let the nursing shortage affect my personal life.  I've learned to leave work at work but I also don't do anything on days I work but come home and eat and collapse.  

I think the general public are aware that there's a nursing shortage.  Patients and family members often comment on this and how busy we are.

I do think quality of care is affected by the shortage.  I know when my ratio is 6:1 I have to make choices on what to do and what to let go off and often am behind.  

Covid when it it Florida for it's first wave, hit hard.   Where I work affected us in two ways, it made our overall census go up and it caused many people to leave the hospital either through retirement or quitting. Also many left to travel and make big bucks.  One of our cardiac floors had to be turned into a covid unit and six nurses quit on the spot making a bad situation worse.  (I'm not judging the nurses, but saying what happened).  

I personally have never experienced burnout but have come close.  2021 was particularly hard with covid and working a lot of overtime (we got some great bonuses).  2022 was better as I didn't work a lot of overtime.  But working short staffed takes a toll for sure.

For new grad nurses, I just advise them to hang on, ask for help, ask questions, and understand it's going to be tough and that it's tough for all of us.

One thing I think that should be done is not at the hospital level but at the education level.  Society needs to invest in getting more nurses graduated.  So many good people here want to be nurses and are turned away and you have to have 4.0 to get in or you have to go to a private for-profit school and get deep in debt.

Right now like the person above our hospital and ERs around here are at capacity.  It's our "season" because snowbirds and tourists are here and we naturally see a rise in census, but people are also getting sicker with sepsis, respiratory ailments like pneumonia, covid, etc.  and our census is much higher than seasons gone by.  

I don't have any good answers other than I just take it one day at a time and do my best.