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'It does terrify me': Nursing students face staffing shortages, burnout in wake of COVID

Nursing students face staffing shortages, burnout (Victoria Sanchez, 7News)
Nursing students face staffing shortages, burnout (Victoria Sanchez, 7News)
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In just four years, nearly 900,000 registered nurses plan to leave their jobs as medical first responders, according to newly released data from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

The organization calls it a threat to the country's healthcare system. The research called “Examining the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Burnout & Stress Among U.S. Nurses,” also identified a group of about 100,000 who left the workforce during the pandemic due to stress, burnout and retirement.

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7News Health and Wellness Reporter Victoria Sanchez spoke with the Catholic University of America's dean of the Conway School of Nursing. Marie Nolan explained the nursing shortage is decades in the making and the pandemic just illuminated the problem.

Despite the physical and mental toll of being a registered nurse, collegiate nursing programs can't keep up with student demand.

“So, it’s not that people are post-pandemic saying they’re not getting into this field?” Sanchez asked.

“No," responded Nolan. “Over 80,000 qualified applicants to nursing schools across the country were not admitted because of the lack of adequate numbers of faculty to teach them.”

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For nearly all of the open faculty positions at nursing schools, future teachers need a master's or doctoral degree on top of an active registered nurse license and real-world experience. Nolan suggests more federal and state scholarships are needed to give current nurses a financial incentive to become future teachers in the field.

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