'Not much incentive to stay' in state as a nurse, Alabama Nurses Association president says

There's not much incentive for nurses to keep working in the state, Lindsey Harris, DNP, president of the Alabama Nurses Association, said Sept. 6, according to WHNT-TV.

Nurses in Alabama make an average 8 percent less than nurses in surrounding states, Dr. Harris said. "It's easy for a nurse to go across state lines and still come back home to their families, and make that 8 percent difference."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses in Alabama make on average just over $60,000 each year. The national average salary for a nurse is about $80,000.

On Sept. 6, a group of emergency department night shift nurses at Birmingham-based UAB Hospital briefly refused to clock in for work over what they say is a lack of equal pay and overwhelming work conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The workers refused to clock in as they protested outside the hospital, then eventually went back inside the facility.

"Our nurses are still heroes, our nurses are still resilient, they still come to work every day to care for people here in the state of Alabama," Dr. Harris added. "Nurses are tired. This is definitely a cry for help. I'd love to see equal pay; I'd love to see our nurses having that safe staffing."

About 20 emergency department staff began their night shift about two hours later than scheduled on Sept. 6, meeting with hospital leadership before beginning their shift, UAB Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Terri Poe, DNP, RN, said in a statement shared with Becker's. Day shift nurses continued to work during the protest.

"We recognize the pressure COVID has put on our nursing staff. As a result, we have offered pay increases, bonuses and incentives as we have been able over the course of the pandemic, and we have continued to explore additional short- and long-term opportunities to reward employees for delivering world-class care to our patients," said Dr. Poe.

Last week, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey reallocated $12.3 million of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to hire travel nurses to work in Alabama hospitals amid a national shortage.


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