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  • Celia Ffrench

The Pandemic has Amplified the American Nursing Shortage

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

The nursing shortage in the U.S. has been an issue for decades, but the pandemic has pushed the shortage to beyond "urgent". If #NurseLife is ever going to improve, we must develop a new model to educate, employ and retain highly skilled and culturally competent nurses.

As a strategic marketer, I partner with a number of IHEs on their workforce development plans, specifically in the nursing space. There are a number of highly innovative solutions coming to education - the most successful ones are those that are rooted in truly understanding the nurse and why they leave roles. The pandemic, of course, has added new reasons why, but let's attempt to understand the underlying reasons that will still be there once the pandemic recedes.

Why do nurses leave? Published by American Nurse Association.

When surveyed, nurses give the following reasons for leaving their current positions: moving, personal matters, promotion, salary, retirement, and burnout. They also leave because they’re dissatisfied with their jobs, they’re given little independence or respect, staffing and scheduling don’t meet their needs, physician/nurse relationships aren’t collegial, they want to return to school, or their healthcare facility closed.

Many hospitals have addressed these problems, but turnover continues to rise. Healthcare organizations might do well to learn from business as well as from other hospitals. Research by John Kotter and James Heskett, published in the book Corporate Culture and Performance, reveals some surprising statistics for firms (12 with a performance-enhancing culture and 20 without) they followed for 11 years.

Firms with a performance-enhancing culture experienced:

  • 682% revenue growth

  • 282% employment growth

  • 901% stock price growth

  • 756% net income growth.

Firms without a performance-enhancing culture experienced:

  • 166% revenue growth

  • 36% employment growth

  • 74% stock price growth

  • 1% net income growth.

Simply put, companies that intentionally manage their cultures significantly outperform those that don’t. The original research behind the American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Recognition Program®, conducted by an American Academy of Nursing group headed by Margaret McClure, EdD, RN, FAAN, was an attempt to determine why nurses stayed at some facilities and left others. The results indicated that nurses stayed at hospitals where excellent patient care was the norm. Read full article here.

In future blog posts, we will explore:

  • How can IHEs utilize the clinical experiences for nursing students to help hospitals and new nurses find "the right fit" before hiring. Would that help reduce turnover?

  • How is the Nursing Faculty shortage now impacting the nurse shortage?

  • Are high stake exams such as NCLEX holding back IHEs and their ability to train more nurses?


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