State of the nursing shortage: 7 notes

Perhaps more than any other point in the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals across the U.S. are feeling the effects of a severe nursing shortage. At the same time, hospitalizations are rising, with some states including Florida and Louisiana recording their highest numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations yet. 

Seven notes on the nursing shortage : 

1. Pre-pandemic, there was already a nursing shortage. The pressures of COVID-19 compounded the situation as some nurses began leaving the workforce altogether and others retired early. 

2. By 2030, estimates suggest California will face the largest nursing shortage of any state. The Bureau of Health Workforce projects the state will have a deficit of 44,500 nurses. 

3. On Aug. 9, the Florida Hospital Association said nearly 70 percent of the state's hospitals could face critical staffing shortages within the next seven days. This comes as a record 14,787 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state as of Aug. 10. 

4. In Texas, there are 23,0000 more unfilled RN positions than there are nurses looking to fill them, according to a labor analysis by the Texas Workforce Commission cited by The Texas Tribune.. On Aug. 9, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott asked for hospitals to consider postponing elective procedures to boost capacity and resources as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise. More than 10,000 Texas were hospitalized with the virus as of Aug. 9, the highest since February, according to data from the state's health department cited by a Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate. 

5. The shortage has created a competitive job market, with hospitals losing nurses to either other hospitals offering pay incentives or to travel nurse agencies. Little Rock-based University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, for example, recently said it would offer a $25,000 sign-on bonus for nurses hired to work in 24/7 critical care areas. 

6. To keep nurses from taking opportunities elsewhere, some health systems have also begun offering retention bonuses to current nurses. Oklahoma City-based OU Health has also launched a "Travel at Home" program, giving current nurses the option to be paid a traveling nurse rate in place of a benefits package, unless legally mandated. 

7. The current situation has some health officials worried the resources are being pulled away from small or rural hospitals that can't afford to attract or retain nurses with pay incentives, the Texas Tribune reports. 


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