The Current Nursing Shortage in the US Has Become a National Crisis

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We have never appreciated nurses more than during the pandemic. Sure, nurses have always been hardworking, but when Covid-19 hit, they became essential. They were and still are literally on the front lines helping patients while risking their own lives.

Although many people appreciate the hard work nurses do every day, nurses don’t always feel appreciated. Many nurses have decided to quit their jobs. Sometimes the stress of the work just becomes too much, especially during a pandemic when what they see happening inside the hospital is ignored by people outside the hospital environment.

Julie Hoff is the chief nurse executive at OU Health in Oklahoma, and she understands why some nurses have decided to quit. She explained, “Imagine going to work every day and working the hardest that you have worked and stepping out of work and what you see every day is denied in the public. The death that you see every day is not honored or recognized.”

Not having your work recognized by the public is far from the only reason nurses have decided to quit. Many nurses are not quitting nursing altogether. Instead, they’re following the money to traveling nursing jobs.

Before the pandemic, a traveling nurse made an average of $1000 to $2000 per week. Now, with nursing shortages throughout the country, a traveling nurse can make anywhere from $3000 to $5000 per week.

Kim Davis quit her nursing job early into the pandemic. She has been a traveling nurse for a year now, and in that time, she has managed to pay off $50,000 in student loans thanks to the huge bump in salary. She explained that nurses are “leaving to go travel because why would you do the same job for half the pay?” She continued, “If they’re going to risk their lives, they should be compensated.”

When nurses decide to stay at their current job, it can be hard on them to see traveling nurses come in who are doing the same work but making double the salary. This only motivates more nurses to quit and become traveling nurses too.

Charlie Shields is the CEO of Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. He thinks traveling companies are “taking advantage of the demand.” He said, “I hate to use `gouged’ as a description, but we are clearly paying a premium and allowing people to have fairly high profit margins.”

Watch the video below to learn more about just how bad the nursing shortage is.

What do you think hospitals could do to encourage nurses not to quit for traveling jobs? Do you think traveling agencies are “gouging” hospitals? Do you know anyone who has quit a nursing job at a hospital for a traveling job?