Experts say nationwide nursing shortage brought on by retirement, pandemic burnout

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 7:14 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Nurses are retiring or getting out of the health care profession, leaving a shortage for hospitals across the country.

Vidant Health in Greenville relies on around 3,000 nurses to care for its patients. Their Chief Nurse Executive, Daphne Brewington, said ideally about 150 more nurses could help with the shortage they’re experiencing.

Sylvia Brown, the Dean at ECU’s College of Nursing, said stress from the pandemic plays a role.

“Even young nurses are beginning to leave the profession because of the stress that they’re experiencing,” she said.

However, she pinpoints nurses nearing retirement as a big reason for the shortage.

“The average age of nurses in the United States is 51. So they’re saying over the next 15 years, we’re really going to see...as the Baby Boomers are aging...that we have more retirements,” explained Brown.

The silver lining is that interest in nursing school has surged during the pandemic. Brown reported that ECU’s College of Nursing has had a record enrollment over the last three semesters.

“You would think that the pandemic might have deterred people from having an interest in it, however, I really think that most people that go into nursing just have such a commitment to improving...health and a caring attitude,” she said.

She is confident each graduating class will fill open positions and be easily welcomed into the profession.

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