Nurses ask for policy changes amid shortage, say money for education isn't enough

Posted at 7:06 AM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 07:26:06-04

TAMPA, Fla. — “The rate that nurses are leaving is tremendous,” said registered nurse, Lisa Guimaraes.

“There are not enough nurses right now to meet the demand,” said Justin Senior, CEO of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida.

Before the pandemic, there was a nursing shortage, but over the past two years, it’s reached critical levels.

“Making our environment very unsafe, burning us out,” said Guimaraes.

Industry experts predict the shortage will be dire in a few years.

“It’s an obvious broke system. It really is because why do we have such high turnover? Why are people leaving the field? Why do we need more nurses the way we need them now more than ever,” said Guimaraes.

Last month thousands of nurses marched across the country, demanding change.

Since then, Governor Ron DeSantis announced $125 million would be dedicated to nursing education.

“Every bit helps… What this creates the potential for is over time, I think the state colleges are going to gear up their offerings and the state universities are going to gear up their offerings in terms of nursing students,” said Senior.

“I think it’s very important in a shortage to really invest in our future,” said Emily Bloom, Organizer of the Florida Nurse Coalition.

Nurses tell ABC Action News this funding is just the first step, especially because it takes time to get through school.

“It takes at least two years, depending on the type of nursing, two years, four years or even more to develop these nurses,” said Senior.

“How many nurses are we going to lose in that process?” asked Guimaraes.

In the meantime, nurses want more and are asking for policy changes with a focus on retaining nurses.

“They’re leaving within the first three years of their careers because of the burnout, because of the difficulties that we’re seeing,” said Guimaraes.

The three big changes they’d like to see are set patient to nurse ratios, fair and realistic wages, and protecting them from violence against healthcare workers.

“If we are not fixing the environment at the bedside that is causing the nurses to leave, then investing in our future is kind of a waste,” said Bloom.

That’s why many nurses are now teaming up to partner with local hospitals to create more changes, while they wait for more help from the government.

“This is something that can’t be solved overnight. It does take a bit of time. There are no easy fixes,” said Senior.

“If you want a plan, listen to your nurses. Listen to what we are saying,” said Guimaraes.