The Nation and the World

Healthcare worker burnout leads to shortage of nurses throughout the US

The US is currently experiencing a healthcare worker shortage. This current shortage is mainly due to the demand for physicians that is growing faster than the supply for them. Healthcare workers are also being burnt out because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the demanding hours they’re forced to work. According to The Mintz there are 19,000 open healthcare positions in hospitals around Massachusetts, with a 56% vacancy rate for licensed nurses. This shortage is only expected to get worse over the next ten years.  According to The Hill By 2031, the US will face a shortage of 195,400 nurses along with 124,000 physicians.

I spoke with Nurse Kate Finlayson of Boston’s Children’s Hospital on this ongoing shortage. She said with the shortage of nurses and doctors she’s been “spread more thin,” with more work being pushed onto the remaining workers. 

While talking about her nursing career specifically, Kate mentioned how nursing has been looked down upon for years. “Where I work nursing is respected but that’s not the standard,” Kate shared “There’s a lot of stigma around nurses, and that they just do work for the doctor when in reality they are the ones spending the most time with patients and I don’t think people outside of the medical field understand that.” 

“I think COVID is a big factor in the burnout,” Kate said, with a lot of workers leaving the field after COVID, “Medical workers, especially nurses, didn’t feel like they were protected, being on the frontline as everyone got to stay home.” They were working tireless hours and hardly got any gratitude for their work, or even protection from the virus. 

She also mentioned that with all the new ways to earn fast money on social media, people are less inclined to go through years of schooling and residency to become a doctor when they could be making more money from the comfort of their own homes. 

Additionally, she talked about how with the older generations retiring and fewer younger people interested in becoming a doctor or a nurse, hospitals are at a loss. “I think we’re going to have to be playing catch up for a long time.” Kate said, “It’s going to be a long time before the medical field is back where it was.” 

However, Kate believes that there is hope for the medical field. “I think if students were granted more loans for schooling and the retention rate was higher in hospitals, people might be more inclined to work in this field.” 

Image Source: Gist Healthcare 

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