The pandemic has created an extra need for nurses. But hospitals are having trouble finding enough nursing help. It’s especially hard in rural areas and at small hospitals.
Why aren’t there enough nurses? More people are getting sick with COVID-19. And some nurses are leaving their jobs. The pandemic makes the work extra stressful. Many nurses who are trained in acute care are over age 50. That increases their risk of serious health problems from COVID-19. Younger nurses often have children or other family to be concerned about.
Over the past decade, the number of nurses has risen. But some hospitals were short-staffed even before the virus took hold. With more and more coronavirus cases, the need for nurses is only increasing.
This is an example of the economic idea of supply and demand. The demand for nurses is high, but the supply is low. That creates a shortage. So hospitals must be willing to spend more money to get the workers they need.
Nurses today are being trained to provide care in fields where they have limited experience. Hospitals are scaling back some services to make sure staff is available to handle very ill patients. And health systems are turning to short-term travel nurses. These nurses take temporary jobs to fill the gaps at different hospitals.
Aspirus Health Care currently offers $15,000 signing bonuses for nurses with at least a year of experience. The healthcare network is also hiring contract (temporary) nurses through staffing companies to manage the swell in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Aspirus recently brought in 18 nurses from outside agencies. The network may need to hire more. Aspirus also is moving nurses around between departments and locations as hot spots appear.
As the pandemic surges just about everywhere in the country, hospitals nationwide compete for the same pool of nurses. They’re offering pay ranging from $1,500 per week to more than $5,000, says April Hansen. She is the executive vice president at Aya Healthcare. The company recruits and places travel nurses.
Hansen says demand for Aya Healthcare’s services has more than doubled since early in the pandemic. The company has about 20,000 openings for contract nurses. Hansen says that placing nurses where they’re needed is “like a giant game of whack-a-mole.”
Sadly, shortages in this life are common: food, workers, medical supplies. But in the new heavens and Earth, we will lack nothing. Joel 2:26 says, “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.”