PITTSBORO, Ind.–If you are a nurse, you’re a valuable commodity in Indiana. That’s because, as in most places, nurses are in short supply. Even though the pandemic has exacerbated the nurse shortage, it started before COVID and will likely be around while the pandemic wanes.
“There have been a significant number of nurses who are leaving for retirement and there’s not necessarily a large number of nurses coming into the field,” said Angela Thomson, DNP, FNP-C, BC-ADM, CDE, FAANP
President of CAPNI, (Coalition of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses of Indiana) ‘ who is a nurse practitioner in Pittsboro.
She has experienced the shortage in her own practice, but also knows from personal experience why nursing is not as attractive as it once was.
“I’ve been working 12-hour shifts, multiple days a week, more than what I would typically work to try to meet the demand,” she said. “I had my nurse retire and I don’t yet have a replacement and I’m utilizing as needed or float pool staff to try to serve that need.”
Thompson was describing a scenario that has led to severe burnout for many nurses and health care workers.
“Nurses and nurse practitioners are working longer hours. They have greater demands and there’s significantly greater burnout as a result of that,” said Thompson.
On top of that, fewer nurses are getting continuing education, so there are fewer teachers.
“If you don’t have enough faculty than you don’t have enough positions [in school] for those who are interested in going into nursing,” she said.
Thompson said employers need to encourage the education that’s needed for nurses to teach nursing. If a nurse wanted to need nursing at the associate level, they’d need a bachelor’s degree; at the bachelor level, they’d need a master’s, etc. Because there are not enough educators, more than 80,000 applicants had to be turned away from nursing school in 2021.
Thompson said nurses also need to be supported by their employers through mentoring and career opportunities. They need to be able to be promoted.
For nurses who are thinking about leaving the field, Thompson said there are ways to cobat the burnout.
“There’s a lot of resources available to help people process the feelings that they have so they can work through the stress.”