Megann Synnott

It’s important to remember that hospitals exist specifically for nursing care. At first glance that seems like a ridiculous thing to say, however physician care exists in the community and in clinics. Hospitals are the place where nursing care is given en mass and that’s the differentiating factor. There are physicians who have a dislike of APRNs who try to insist that the nursing shortage is related to nurses leaving bedside to pursue advanced practice roles. APRNs are such a small factor of where the nursing shortage is coming from. We have an aging population and an aging workforce. We haven’t created enough spaces in nursing education to fill those needs. We can’t afford to train new grad nurses enough to hire them all right out of school. We struggle to retain the nurses that we do train beyond a year or two due to burn out. This is prior to the challenges that COVID-19 placed on the workforce. Experienced nurses are what we are seriously lacking. That’s not elevating critical care (ICU/ ED) as the only areas in need of experienced nurses. Acute care nursing has its own skillset and nurses who meet those challenges. We’re also lacking experienced home health and clinic nurses.
Those areas, home health and clinic, traditionally don’t attract experienced nurses due to the difference in wages.

We can’t be naive either that we have created barriers to many people entering the workforce. The push for an all BSN nursing workforce eliminates a large sector of nurses. Removing LPNs from the hospital eliminates a resource. Underutilizing EMTs as ED techs is also a strain on resources as their training has a huge amount of overlap with RNs. We create barriers to ourselves under the umbrella of supposed patient safety. However, fatigue and ratios are the biggest factors to patient safety. A lot of these decisions were political. It’s past time to reevaluate some of these structures we’ve created and allow nurses to do what we’ve always done as a profession: grow where the need is.