As we recapped here, in late March, ANA-Illinois Executive Director Susan Swart, EdD, MS, RN, CAE, addressed the nursing shortage with the Illinois Senate Health Committee. During her meeting with the committee, she ran through the projected shortage of nurses in Illinois and also provided them with ideas on how to combat it.
Illinois is, in fact, facing a shortage of nurses — both in the traditional occupation and of nursing faculty. Read on for an update of statistics from ANA-Illinois.
Traditional Nurse Shortage
According to this article from Fierce Healthcare, the nursing shortage, currently at some of its worst levels ever, is expected to intensify in the next 18 months. While the shortage of nurses gives rise to a number of issues, this report by Wolters Kluwer shows how dire the situation actually is. The report notes that “higher patient acuity, combined with fewer nurses at the bedside, has turned nurse–patient ratios upside down. And the reality is that not only nurses are leaving the bedside; unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP) have been leaving their hospital roles, too, thereby increasing the registered nurse (RN) workload.”
With the shortage expected to increase in the coming months, hospitals will need to resort to drastic measures to continue providing adequate care.
Nursing Faculty Shortage
In addition to the traditional nursing shortage, colleges and universities are also facing a shortage of nursing faculty. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “Faculty shortages at nursing schools across the country are limiting student capacity.” The issue is getting so severe that “U.S. nursing schools turned away 80,407 qualified applications from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2019 due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints.”
Overall, the shortage of nursing faculty feeds into a vicious cycle. Because of the shortage of faculty, less nursing students are able to graduate, which further feeds into the shortage of both faculty and traditional nurses.
Solutions to the Shortage
ANA-Illinois continues to push for the solutions that Executive Director Susan Swart proposed to the Illinois State legislature. These include:
- Require workforce-related collection data at the time of license renewal to give a more complete picture of the nursing workforce
- Pass the Nurse Licensure Compact to remove barriers to nurses working in nearby geographical areas and protect current Illinois Nurses while performing interstate practice via telehealth
- Increase focus on nursing education by increasing enrollment and funding faculty investment
- Invest in nursing programs and provide loan forgiveness to nurses
- Allow new graduates and student nurses to practice with limited, temporary licenses under the supervision of an RN
- Address the salary of nurses at all levels
ANA-Illinois believes that the nursing shortage has escalated to a crisis and that it must be addressed as quickly as possible.