Taken from NJ.com
By Spencer Kent
May 3, 2023
The desperate search for nurses continues.
In fact, it has grown more critical in New Jersey even as the pandemic fades into history.
While hiring has increased across the country since the height of the COVID-19 crisis, hospitals and other health care providers continue to struggle with a severe nursing shortage.
New Jersey ranks among the 10 states with the most unfilled registered nurse positions with 13,404, according to Adzuna, a job listing site. And it cannot simply recruit candidates from nearby states because neighbors Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania are having even more trouble.
“The pandemic exacerbated a problem that existed for decades as employers have continued to understaff to maximize profits,” said Debbie White, president of Health Professionals and Allied Employees, the state’s largest nurses union, in a statement. “During the last three years, though, healthcare workers have migrated — and continue to migrate — out of bedside nursing at an alarming rate due to untenable working conditions.
“There is tremendous burnout and stress in the profession and if we do not ‘stop the bleeding,’ healthcare will be on the brink of collapse.”
Nursing vacancy rates have fallen nationally over the past year, likely due to hospitals hiking pay and luring nurses away from staffing agencies and travel nursing, as one report suggested. But shortages persist compared to 2020 numbers.
Some hospitals still struggle to staff wards and rely on those costly travel nurses to fill gaps. In the meantime, bedside nurses are becoming more exhausted and burned out as their workload increases due to understaffing.
A new survey found 85% of nurses working in hospitals plan to change jobs, leave the profession entirely or return to school, according to AMN Healthcare, one of the U.S.’s largest health care staffing companies. The survey echoes what nurses have said in the past few years: They are overwhelmed by understaffing, physically and emotionally taxing work and the pandemic.
It leaves New Jersey in a precarious position.
The state predicts a shortage of 11,400 nurses by 2030 — the third highest in the nation, according to New Jersey Hospital Association President and CEO Cathy Bennett.
“There are steps that we can take to expand the healthcare workforce pipeline,” she said in a statement. “To start, New Jersey can expand training programs. New Jersey nursing programs are actually turning away qualified applicants because we don’t have enough instructors or physical space to train interested students.
“NJHA is partnering with policymakers to develop additional clinical sites, recruit more healthcare faculty and update curricula as healthcare delivery evolves and patients’ needs change.”
The HPAE is hoping to inspire change as well.
On May 11, its frontline health care workers will gather in Trenton to urge lawmakers to mandate staffing ratios — requiring a limit on the number of patients each nurse can care for — at New Jersey hospitals.
“Unionized healthcare workers know the solution and will be bringing the message to Trenton lawmakers: pass a safe staffing law to help keep our workforce at the bedside,” White said.
Adzuna compiled registered nurse job postings from across the nation, finding 7.8 million listings in the U.S. as of April 26.
The report listed 10 states with the most job listings for registered nurses in March 2023:
- Connecticut: 27,926
North Carolina: 24,202
- New York: 18,784
New Jersey: 13,404