The Path Forward: 7.12.2022

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 7:41 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -A national survey of more than 22 hundred registered nurses reveals the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nursing profession. In the first of a two-part The Path Forward, Shawn Cunningham reports on how that strain might impact present day patient care.

“The nursing profession is not doing well right now and the pandemic has only exposed what we’ve already seen before.”

A recent study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute is painting a bleak picture for the nursing profession in the next few years. Prior to the pandemic, the industry was

already being challenged with a growing national nursing shortage. But the realities of Covid have exacerbated problems in healthcare even moreso...

Grace Dunn Researcher, Illinois Economic Policy Institute

“it revealed there were inadequate staffing levels and alarming rates of burnout and stress causing many nurses to report that they are considering leaving the profession altogether.”

Shawn Cunningham NO STANDUP

The report is based on responses from 2,257 registered nurses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to more than 50 survey questions. Conducted 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the responses were collected during the wave of hospitalizations and deaths associated primarily with the Delta variant, but before the onset of the Omicron variant.


One of the authors of the report findings says quote " While empirical research has long linked nurse-to-patient ratios or ‘safe patient limits,’ staffing committees, and other policy instruments to better overall outcomes for both patients and nurses, the impact of COVID-19 has brought a new level of urgency to these considerations.”

ILEPI Executive Director Frank Manzo IV

But Dunn says highlighting the problem has a flipside one of highlighting some solutions.

“we found that nursing unions can dramatically improve staffing conditions combat nurse shortages and create healthy patient outcomes.”

Still she says those efforts need to happen and happen now. And she says the problem needs to be more openly discussed in hospitals and healthcare sites nationwide f effective change is going to occur...

“a nurse may wanna do something morally but feel constrained by the institutional constraints that exist within their system so we found that over 9 and 10 nurses reported they’re feeling moral distress and that leads to turnover it leads to attrition and we cannot afford that in the healthcare industry.”

Shawn Cunningham, NS 8.

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