Nursing shortage in Tennessee could pose health care access risk

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WKRN) – Tennessee is currently experiencing a nursing shortage that could pose a major health care risk, especially in light of the pandemic.

Tina Gerardi has been a nurse for 41 years. She says the current shortage of nurses in Tennessee is unlike any shortage of nurses she has ever seen. If things don’t improve, she says the shortage could impact all areas of healthcare.

“There may be closures at some facilities. There may be transfers from the emergency room to other institutions rather than being admitted to the hospital, ”said Gerardi.

Tennessee was already experiencing a nursing shortage before the pandemic, but the COVID-19 outbreak has only made matters worse.

“You have a grueling day and then you go home, you get a little rest, you’re back for another grueling day, you don’t really have time to deal with the trauma sometimes, the emotional trauma that you see particularly. with all the death and death occurring, unfortunately, linked to the pandemic, ”Gerardi said.

These shortages are also affecting home care and long-term care facilities. Gerardi says the demanding workloads placed on nurses have caused many baby boomers to retire.

Although enrollment in nursing schools is stable, some choose not to stick with the profession.

“Some of the new nurses who have entered the profession have been so overwhelmed with everything that is going on that they are leaving the bedside, and some are actually leaving the profession, which is difficult. And all of that added to this particular shortage, which makes it very different from what we’ve seen in the past, ”said Gerardi.

The shortage also reduces the time nurses can spend with each patient.

Gerardi says the best way to get back to normal is to pay nurses more in parts of the state, give them more control over care decisions within their practice, and most importantly, get people vaccinated. and take action to reduce cases of Covid.

“People who are closer to retirement might decide ‘okay I’m going to stay now, we’re kind of past those horrible 18 months’, but if we don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, I fear we’ll lose more nurses, ”Gerardi said.

For anyone considering a career in nursing, the profession currently offers several benefits, including hiring bonuses and opportunities to transition into specialist care earlier.

“We need you and one of the most rewarding things you can do in your life is take care of someone when they are most vulnerable,” said Gerardi.

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