Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester attends roundtable at Beebe Healthcare on challenges facing nurses
LEWES, Del.- Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester joined members of the Beebe Hospital System, and members of the Delaware legislature Thursday in Lewes at the Margaret H Rollins school of nursing, to discuss the challenges that nursing faces across the US and the first state.
The roundtable focused on improving information sharing between state and federal governments and the licensing departments for nurses, so as to better track rates of attrition year over year, and predict future moments of low staffing such as those seen in 2021 following the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rep. Blunt Rochester presented her national nursing workforce center act, looking to bring resources centers for nurses to every state, to help improve morale, expertise, and staffing.
“For a workforce development center you are going to have everything from the best practices to education training recruitment its all the pieces coming together in one spot,” she said.
The group discussed ways to keep nurses in the first stage, including reforming the incentive structure around traveling nurses, which sees nurses see high pay, subsidized housing, and lower patient loads by traveling to other states instead of their initial hospital system.
“We had to bring travel nurses in to support staff and long term they have stayed due to the monetary incentives so that hurts the morale of staff loyal to your organization and staying so health care institutions need to work on making sure they support from within first,” said Nursing School Director Karen Pickard.
She says the traveling nurses can also create a lack of institutional knowledge at the centers, including a lack of mentors to train the next generation of nurses.
A presentation at the event pointed to 45 percent of nurses in the first state surveyed said they were considering or actively looking to leave, which is paring with the largest group of nurses by age, those born between 1950 and 1955 approaching retirement, to create a shortage that could be as high as 1.1 million nurses across the nation.
Current nurses say a center that helps fill the gap of mentors, mental health, training, and more would help alleviate the burnout that is leading many nurses to leave the profession.
“The burnout is real with the current nurses and even begin new coming in you see how its taking a toll on even seasoned nurses,” said Nurse and Beebe graduate Breona Mailey adding “the shortage is high we do have nurses taking on five or six patients which is over the max of 4.”
Speaking at the roundtable, Delaware Senator Sarah Mcbridge highlighted how paid family medical leave and a lifting of caps for certain medical licenses are also helping nurses be able to stay in the profession despite the challenges of childcare.
Blunt Rochester tells 47ABC, the discussion was a great way to find out the needs on the ground and incorporate those needs into legislation and relationships at the federal level.
“We had this diverse roundtable to address the challenges, but also to know and to see where we can find that solution and they are in our grasp,” she said.