Nurses make up the largest profession in health care, and play a vital role in the recovery and care of patients. Nursing shortages are negatively impacting the care provided to patients. Nurses are responsible for keeping patients safe and remain at the bedside for longer than anyone else on the health care team. The COVID-19 pandemic has played a large role in burnout and compassion fatigue for nurses. Regardless, the nursing shortage has been around for far longer than since the start of the pandemic.
More people than ever need health care. The aging population will put further strain on the already limited nursing resources. With a decreased workforce, nurses are needing to take on more and more patients at the bedside. Lower nurse-to-patient ratios lead to increased patient mortality, more errors, decreased nursing retention, and decreased nurse and patient satisfaction. The lower nurse-to-patient ratios increase the risk of the patient and put more strain on the nurse, continuing the cycle of burnout and compassion fatigue.
The nursing shortage and factors leading to burnout and decreased retention need to be addressed to keep patients safe and ensure they are receiving the highest quality of care.