Nursing supply was already at a tipping point before the COVID-19 crisis. The US was struggling to satisfy rising demand in the face of a decade-long and acute nursing shortage, which was projected to balloon to 200,000 unfilled positions this year. The COVID-19 crisis has exasperated an already overwhelming shortage.
The HWRA is legislation that will increase the supply of nurses and doctors into the US. These two occupations are among the shortest supplied occupations by US workers.
The US nursing crisis will only get worse:
- While the crisis is abating in some areas of the country, a COVID-19 vaccine is not expected for 18 months. Spikes in infection rates will continue until the vaccine is developed.
- CDC Director Robert Redfield fears that the virus’s continued assault on our nation next winter could “actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through.” He continued, "and when I've said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don't understand what I mean."
- Likewise, during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic some areas in the country did not reach their peaks until the following November. The second wave was much more deadly than the first wave.
- Infection peaks have not yet happened in most of the country. Seven of the eight counties with the most infections are all in New York. While New York appears to have finally hit its peak, that state is an outlier.
- Other countries have not yet reached an infection peak. As international travel comes back on line, it is expected that US infection rates will re-emerge.
- Maldistribution of healthcare workers means that grave nursing shortages exist in some localities and specialties. For instance, employers of dialysis nurses have seen their national shortage triple in the just eight weeks. New York area hospitals are offering pay rates at 2 to 4 times a nurse’s usual salary, in an effort to attract nurses from other areas of the country.
- Nursing schools are forcing rushed graduations in an effort to put nurses immediately onto hospital rosters. States are even waiving licensing requirements in an effort to get as many healthcare workers to work as quickly as possible.
- We know based on the experience of other countries that the coronavirus is a caregivers' illness. In Italy's Lombardy region, one of the country's hardest-hit, as much as 10 percent of all nurses and doctors have been infected and placed in quarantine. Italy is now desperately calling on retried healthcare workers to join their fight.