Nationwide nursing shortage is impacting Middle Tennessee hospitals

Posted at 4:56 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 19:23:03-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — Every year, the need for more health care workers becomes a nationwide topic. However, this year, with the global pandemic, the need is far greater.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing says a shortage of registered nurses is projected to spread across the country between now and 2030. And the COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how great the need truly is for more workers.

"The need as a result to the pandemic is very critical and I know many people have heard this, and it relates to a lot of things that are pretty understandable," said Marilyn Dubree.

Dubree is the executive chief nursing officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She says as Baby Boomers age and the need for health care grows, we will see more shortages. And when you add COVID patients and their needs to the mix, the demand is increasing.

The staff at Saint Thomas Health agrees.

"Clearly the shortage has caused additional burden and strain on the front-line caregivers [and] on the nurses," said Sam Straton, chief nursing officer at Saint Thomas Health.

And if nurses catch the Coronavirus, they're out for 14 days again making it hard to retain staff.

Hospitals are cross-training and adding incentives to get nurses already on the payroll to help and work extra shifts. Straton says staff have been forced to get creative to help with the increase demand of patients and their needs.

"We have associates who worked here previously and sometimes retired nurses that come in and help in a different way," she said.

Because of the high numbers of COVID cases and shortage of nurses, these medical professionals are asking everyone to wear a mask so they can focus on the sickest of patients.