Nurse vacancies at Alabama health system up 5% since pandemic began

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Nursing vacancies at University of Alabama at Birmingham have increased from 9 percent pre-pandemic to a current rate of 14 percent, reports CBS affiliate WIAT.

Since the pandemic began, the health system has added COVID-19 programs and units that have contributed to the rising vacancy rate, said Terri Poe, DNP, RN, chief nursing officer at UAB. The vacancy rate is still lower than the national average of 18.7 percent, according to Dr. Poe. The system has about 4,000 nursing positions total. 

"A lot of nurses left the bedside for reasons that were really out of their control," Dr. Poe told WIAT.  

Amid the pandemic, some nurses have decided to leave the profession while others have opted to become travel nurses, said Don Williamson, MD, president of the Alabama Hospital Association. 

The fact that Alabama hospitals have the lowest Medicare rate reimbursement in the U.S. can exacerbate the staffing shortage, said Dr. Williamson.

"We're going to have to find new ways to recruit, retain and incentivize nurses to come to Alabama and to stay in Alabama," Dr. Williamson said.

 

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