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Healthcare License DefenseWe have already written about the prevalence of understaffing in nursing. Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 Pandemic has severely exacerbated the existing understaffing issues. Now more than ever before, nurses are facing extremely challenging work environments with unforgiving and unrelenting conditions.

Already understaffed, facilities reaching critical capacities due to the Covid-19 Pandemic only further highlights these existing difficulties. Nurses who already struggle to provide care to a typical number of patients simply cannot manage an even larger number of patients. As much as patients are filling facilities with Covid-19, nurses are being exposed to the virus and many have fallen ill. With strict and long quarantine policies, a facility can be without multiple nurses at once. This can be devastating for facilities, especially those with minimal staff.

In many cases, nurses who test positive for Covid-19 are out of work for at least 14 days, and only return when they obtain a negative test result. For some people, despite having a negative test result and surpassing the quarantine period, their physical health remains affected by the virus. Scientists and doctors have barely scratched the surface of understanding the condition known as “Long Covid,” but the reality is that many nurses who tested positive continue to have symptoms long after their initial illness. These symptoms, which include fatigue, brain fog, heart palpitations, and lesions, can gravely affect the nurses’ ability to perform their work, if they are even able to physically be at work. This creates a perpetual cycle of understaffing and makes already-difficult work even more challenging.

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Nursing EducationAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 1.1 million new registered nurses will be needed by 2022. These new nurses will replace the expected 500,000 retirees and fill the 100,000 new RN positions created each year. With this need for new nurses comes a need for nurse educators to provide proper training. Nurse educators play the crucial role of ensuring that new nurses are prepared to meet the growing demand for their services.

There has been a shift in thinking for hospitals, with more seeking nurses who have acquired a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN) under the belief that such training leads to better expected patient outcomes. Nurse educators are in an important position within this hospital system. They are trained nurses who can deliver the most crucial information to new nurses, given their intimate understanding of the challenges of the profession and how to best convey critical knowledge that is essential to a hospital’s success. As for nurses, this increasing need in the education field has a certain additional incentive. There is a reported $20,000-$30,000 pay gap between nursing faculty and practicing nurses, inducing more nurses to turn to teaching.

Another area offering career and education growth for nurses is through the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs. Due to a physician shortage, there is an increased need for direct providers, and nurses are entering such programs in order to fill the gap. The doctoral programs prepare nurses for careers in health administration, education, clinical research and advanced practice, allowing nurses to become experts in their profession and assume a variety of leadership roles.

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