The Nursing Shortage Needs New Solutions

News reports during our times with COVID point to a worsening of a nursing shortage. Clearly, the epidemic has made the shortage worse because of a host of problems, not the least of which is burnout. But the nursing shortage has been with us, and the rest of the world, for a very long time and there are no signs of it letting up anytime soon.

When I was in nursing school in the late 1970’s we were told there would always be a job for us and that the demand for nurses was greater than it had ever been. Things have not changed much in all these years and politicians, nursing leaders and policymakers have been pointing to the problem for just as long. The situation never seems to get any better.

Where Have All The Nurses Gone

In his recent budget address Vermont Governor Phil Scott pointed out that Vermont is spending too much money to hire traveling nurses. He has come to recognize something that has been causing economic pain to Vermont’s health care institutions for many years.

When an institution cannot hire enough nurses from the local community and they want to provide optimum staffing, they often turn to one of the national traveling nurse companies to fill vacancies. The overall cost of contracting with these agencies significantly hurts the bottom line of institutions and that means that overall health care costs increase for everyone eventually.