The Nursing Shortage Is at Crisis Levels
From truckers to construction workers to grocery store clerks to nurses, mentioning that the front-line workers have “stepped up” during the pandemic is an understatement. Front-line workers have had to deal with issues such as burnout and fatigue while still being required to remain professional and perform their tasks to the best of their ability. Thanks to their selflessness, people were able to get the care they needed even in the midst of a deadly pandemic. But everyone has his or her breaking point.
One industry that has definitely been pushed to its limits during the pandemic is the healthcare industry, particularly nurses. In the year-and-a-half time span of the pandemic, nurses have had to work around an abundance of issues from lack of personal protective equipment to emergency rooms packed to capacity. Now, nurses and healthcare professionals have another issue to encounter: a nationwide nursing shortage.
How have the conditions of the pandemic contributed to the current nursing shortage?
Simply put, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed nurses to their breaking point. Many nurses have been tested to their limits in terms of their stamina and bedside manner. Some nurses have even lost their lives due to the conditions that the pandemic has caused for hospitals nationwide.
Nurses and other healthcare professionals had to constantly provide a standard of care to all patients even though certain technology, such as ventilators, was not available. In addition to working around the lack of proper equipment, nurses also began to travel to the hot zones and assist other hospitals. These conditions have led to extreme burnout for many nurses, who are now gearing up for another round of the same potential risks due to the new delta variant of the virus.
How has the nursing shortage affected hospitals nationwide?
The nursing shortage has made the efforts to treat hospitalized coronavirus patients much more complicated. Due to the lack of available nurses, emergency room waiting times have been extended, and healthcare professionals have been put in a position of providing insufficient care to patients who require attention around the clock.
The shortage has created a domino effect in hospitals where the lack of adequate nursing staff leads to an issue moving patients out of emergency rooms and ICUs in an efficient manner. Because these patients remain in the emergency rooms for extended periods of time, new patients who require emergency rooms must wait to be admitted, and the cycle continues. According to an analysis composed by the New York Times, there are currently one in five ICUs that are filled to 95 percent capacity.
Has burnout contributed to the nationwide nursing shortage?
Yes, it has. Multiple surveys of nurses nationwide have expressed an abundance of emotions associated with burnout. They have discussed the stress and anxiety of working inflexible shifts and feeling guilty and saddened by the inability to provide the appropriate care for patients. Nurses have also expressed anger at emergency rooms filling up to capacity with patients who are unvaccinated and refuse to be vaccinated. To some nurses, it can be viewed as a slap in the face of the sacrifice they have chosen to take on.
How has Maryland addressed the nursing shortage?
The nursing shortage has been at crisis levels in Maryland for decades. Fox 5 News reported in 2020 that “according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Maryland is projected to need 10,000 more nurses in the next 10 years.”
To help combat the shortage, universities and medical schools are stepping up, too. Notre Dame of Maryland University has an accelerated program designed to get registered nurses working faster. The school runs its semesters continuously – no breaks – so that nurses can graduate in 15 months instead of 24.
Travel nurses are also being courted with higher wages. According to MarketPlace, some travel nurses are making up to $8000 a week. Veronica O’Kane, a travel nurse who has spent time in Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, and Maryland, said her pay is now about $66 an hour – double her rate from Spring 2020 – and has nearly paid off $40,000 of student debt since the pandemic started.
Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. supports frontline workers, but we worry about the potential for risk to patients. The nursing shortage in Maryland throughout the country could lead to significant harm for patients and medical professionals alike.
If you are injured in a medical setting, we may be able to help. Contact the injury attorneys of Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. today at 410.730.7737, or fill out our contact form. We have multiple offices throughout Maryland for your convenience.