Staff shortage leaves nurses overworked

JACKSON, Tenn. — Nurses are calling for a much needed break after long hours and no relief in sight.

COVID-19 has taken its toll on medical professionals around the world, including the nursing community.

And several nurses in Tennessee have left the profession due to the pressures caused by COVID-19.

Tina Gerardi, with the Tennessee Nursing Association, says there was already a shortage before the pandemic. And that only made it worse.

“Eighteen months of constant work and very little, if any, relief has really exacerbated the shortage,” Gerardi said.

Gerardi says they have seen seasoned nurses retire early, and new nurses leave the profession due to the stress from the pandemic.

“They wanted to help, but they had no idea how stressful and difficult the work can be both physically and emotionally,” Gerardi said.

Leslie West, with Jackson State Community College, says while the pandemic has deterred several students from entering nursing, it has also given others a positive affirmation that this is the field for them.

“We have seen a little of both. People feel more strongly about being called to serve others. We have also seen people feel intimidated by what they see on the news, as how stressful a nursing job can be,” West said.

West says one way to fix the main stressor for nurses is to change the imbalance between supply and demand.

“The limited staffing, the shortage of RNs to take care of patients. There are more patients than there are staff to take care of them. If we can increase the supply, that will influence the stress that nurses are feeling,” West said.

The community can help relieve that stress as well.

Gerardi says getting the vaccine and wearing your mask in public can hopefully lower the number of people sent to the ER.

“Doing your part in the pandemic to keep yourself and your family safe and protected against COVID. That is the best thing that anybody can do to support the nursing staff,” Gerardi said.

If you would like join the nursing profession, JSCC has extended their nursing application deadline for spring 2022 until Oct. 1.

You can learn more here.

Categories: COVID-19 Updates, Local News, News
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