Dean of Nursing Laura Fero, PhD, appeared on Minnesota Public Radio News along with host Angela Davis and Kelley Annas, a working nurse in the Twin Cities, on September 23 to discuss the struggles currently facing the nursing profession and what can be done to improve the healthcare system for all parties.
The discussion arose specifically after all eyes turned to Minnesota nurses after a three-day strike ending September 15. Striking for better pay and staffing levels, many saw the protest as an inevitable end to the high levels of stress and overwork nurses have faced since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staffing shortages "started before [the pandemic] and we’ve known for a long time that we’re going to have very, very large vacancies, and what I want to highlight is that we also have those vacancies from an education standpoint too. We are short of nursing faculty,” Fero stated. “There were 66,000 students last year that couldn’t get in nationwide because we can’t take any more students because we have no faculty ... Additionally, there’s a lack of clinical space, as many hospitals can’t take any more students than they’re already taking placements for.”
Davis and her guests further discussed the critical issues of burnout among nurses, with many facing repeated 12 or 14 hour shifts, and higher workloads. The conversation also turned to the struggles of nursing education, with many prospective students unable to join the field due to faculty shortages, space shortages, or the financial strain of higher education. However, a hopeful undercurrent ran through the session, with Fero and Abbas firmly highlighting not only the ability of the system to change, but nurses’ power to change their communities.
You can listen to the segment here.
“This system is broken. We have inequities that are happening in our healthcare system, and nurses are the center of care, not just on the inpatient side, but for the outpatient and community side too … We can do so much, and our students do so much, that can really increase the level of care and equitable access to what our communities need. So if we’re short, it’s not only impacting the acute care side, it’s also impacting our communities.”
— Laura Fero, PhD, MPR News