COVID Slowdown Exacerbates Shortage in Talented Nurses

COVID Slowdown Exacerbates Shortage in Talented Nurses

According to a report from KSHB in Kansas City, 500,000 seasoned registered nurses will retire by 2022. As a result, by next year, there will be more available registered nurse jobs than ever before.

Combined with the current sizable shortage in qualified nurses, it’s expected that healthcare employers will have to hire a projected 1.1 million new registered nurses to avoid a critical nursing shortage.

The Nursing Shortage for Central Missouri Hospitals

Sally Maliski, the Dean of the University of Kansas, School of Nursing, put the difficulty of the upcoming labor shortage into perspective. She described that, while larger metropolitan medical institutions will face many challenges filling these roles, the smaller community hospitals in rural Missouri are in the most challenging position.  

Further reports cite research from the Missouri Hospital Association, with the following results:

  • Central Missouri has a nurse shortage of 9.5%
  • The state shortage is at 11%
  • There’s a 16% turnover rate for nurses in Missouri, which is incredibly high. 

There’s no denying the alarming nature of these trends. And COVID isn’t making anything easier.

COVID Worsens the Nursing Shortage in Missouri

A nursing shortage can have a snowball effect. Lacking staff means current nursing staff will have to work harder to cover longer hours. Long hours and a lack of work/life balance are one of the most difficult aspects of a nurse’s career. Fatigue is one of the leading factors negatively impacting a nurse’s quality of life.

Overworked and exhausted, many highly qualified nurses are exiting the profession. Beyond that, COVID-19 isn’t helping matters in the slightest. Missouri Nurses Association director Heidi Lucas explains that nurses across the state feel underappreciated as hospitalization numbers spike. 

While many nurses are committed to helping people, the difficulties they’re facing are putting their resolve to the test.

Short-Term Solutions Highlight the Post Pandemic Nursing Shortage

COVID-19 has taken its toll on nurses, but the nursing shortage is nothing new. Back in April 2020, Nursing schools for Missouri’s Saint Louis University and the SSM Health system shortened a joint program for returning nurses to patient care from four weeks to two weeks.

These desperate measures are a clear indication of the nursing shortage previous to the pandemic. There weren’t enough nurses to handle the influx of ICU patients, to the point that retirees were being called on to return to their roles even sooner.

Because the nurses in these programs have already retired, this was a very short-term stopgap. The majority of them won’t be sticking around for the long haul. And their rapidly approaching departure indicates headaches on the horizon for healthcare employers.

Educators Struggling to Address Missouri Nursing Shortages

Both restrictions on class sizes and a lack of educators have been cited as reasons for low enrollment in nursing institutions. 

An article from Missouri Health Careers described Missouri’s Sinclair School of Nursing program as follows: 60% of graduates from the program have jobs before leaving. With the school being ranked number 1 back in 2014, those employment success rates aren’t surprising. And 80% of those graduates end up working in Missouri.

That all sounds ideal at first. Those numbers are promising and would indicate that by 2021 there should be a steady stream of Missouri nurses ready to fill the industry shortage. 

But there were only 75 students graduating from Sinclair in December 2014. That was not nearly enough nurses to meet the demands of the industry. Sinclair – and other similar schools across the state – are handcuffed by a lack of funding. In particular, Sinclair is limited to 75 nursing students in the fall and 55 in the spring.

Long-Term Solutions for the Shortage in Nursing Talent 

Missouri’s hospitals and medical clinics need nurses now. We can help.

With our network of highly qualified nurses, we’re prepared to help mitigate the upcoming crunch for nursing talent in your area. Contact JobFinders today. We know where to find the top nursing talent in the state. 

Contact us to learn more

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