Pandemic puts more stress on nursing shortage

Regional News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — National Nurses Week starts Thursday and ends May 12. Health care workers have been in the spotlight over the past year. COVID-19 still remains an issue as hospitals are dealing with a nursing shortage.

“At one point or another, everybody in their life is going to have to go to the hospital, and wouldn’t it be awful if they went there and there was no one to care for them?,” Betsy Snook, CEO of Pennsylvania State Nurses Association said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 500,000 seasoned registered nurses are expected to retire by the end of next year. At the same time, there will be more than 1 million open RN positions.

“That’s a heck of a lot of registered nurses. Considering the fact that nursing enrollment, even though some of the nursing enrollment is up, it’s not keeping pace with the demand that we’re going to have,” Snook said.

It’s also a problem here in Pennsylvania.

“We’re having a shortage, but it’s not as severe as some geographic areas are having,” Snook said.

The pressures put on health care workers from the pandemic has only made it worse.

“Depending on what statistic you look at, anywhere between 36% and 60% of nurses say they’re going to leave the profession as a result of this pandemic,” Snook said.

That’s causing concern for nursing schools. The Pennsylvania State Nurses Association is working towards a solution by creating a Pennsylvania Nurses Middle College Charter High School. It would be open to any Dauphin County high school student, tuition-free.

“Not only getting more people into the nursing pipeline, but it will increase the diversity by working with these students to have an integrated curriculum with nursing instruction as part of that,” Snook said.

The Pennsylvania State Nurses Association hopes to get the school up and running by September of next year.

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