At the beginning of the pandemic, nurses were celebrated as heroes willing to risk their own lives, often away from their families to take care of COVID patients, but over the last two years, nurses have reported large increases in violence.
OSHA found hospitals are one of the most dangerous workplaces in the country and all of that is taking its toll on the profession.
“Some of the things that are really concerning about that is we're actually seeing more young nurses who have just entered the profession leave the profession and leave bedside nursing,” said Michelle Larkin, a long-time cancer nurse who does public policy work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
While nursing is experiencing its sharpest exit in decades, more people are also applying to nursing schools than they have room for and the future of nursing is changing.
“Starting in those schools are also making sure that they're building in self-care and helping nurses recognize what do I need to do for my own well being so that I'm prepared as a student,” Larkin said, “so that I'm prepared as a student, through the student experience to be resilient to also make sure that I know and recognize the signs when I need somebody to help care for me as a nurse.”
A study from the National Academy of Medicine mentions the importance of nurse well-being and resilience. It also mentions nurses helping to identify systemic barriers to equitable and accessible care for all.
“They're thinking about how you not only meet patients where they are in terms of their background, their culture, but that we make sure that we are giving patients what they need,” Larking said. “Nurses and nursing schools have work to do there, but they are looking at it and they are starting to develop programs to be able to meet those needs.”
Larkin mentioned public policy changes to help alleviate the burden paperwork has on nurses and reevaluating how many patients these nurses can effectively take care of at once.