Nurses at TUH speculate on the national nursing shortage and working conditions for nurses.
On Sept. 16, Temple University Hospital, along with 27 other health care providers in Pennsylvania, participated in the third Promise of Nursing for Pennsylvania gala.
The event, hosted by the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future, was held at the Downtown Philadelphia Marriot, with all proceeds benefiting nursing school grants, faculty fellowships and student scholarships, according to Johnson & Johnson’s website.
In the two prior galas held in Pennsylvania, more than $1.2 million was raised to address the nationwide nursing shortage, which has affected Pennsylvania and TUH.
According to the Health Resources Administration, there will be a 41 percent vacancy rate in the field of nursing in Pennsylvania, with approximately 54,000 nurses needed to close that gap and provide viable health care for the state of Pennsylvania.
Temple nurses have been affected considerably by this crisis.
Nurses reported being overly stressed and not being able to spend as much time with the patient as they would like.
“With the shortage we are experiencing now, there is never an extra set of hands, there is never an extra set of eyes on the unit,” said Mary Adamson, a registered nurse at TUH. “What happens is you are constantly putting out fires.”
Temple nurses reported working harder and even pulling double shifts in order to alleviate the effect of the shortage on patient care, but as some admit, it is not enough and patients are feeling the consequences.
“Patients are suffering. There is definitely more codes and emergencies being called than two years ago at the hospital,” Adamson said. “It definitely seems like there are more bad outcomes. We have more patients than we can house in our unit.”
Although there is a shortage, nursing jobs are still hard to come by, said Jerry Silberman, staff representative for TUH nurses in the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.
“The job market for nurses is tight right now,” Silberman said in an e-mail. “Hospitals are not hiring, although health care has not suffered the cuts other areas of the economy have, but the fact that nurses now have to actively search for jobs, and it can take a while, is disconcerting when for years you could write your own ticket.”
Nurses have called for the hiring of not just nurses but for more hospital personnel in all areas.
“We’re short in everything,” Adamson said. “They need to hire more nurses. There are so many nurses out of work now.”
Silberman said hospitals are at fault for not hiring nurses who would alleviate the magnitude of the nursing shortage.
“Another thing which is affecting it is the tendency for nurses who have stopped working to go back to work if their partner gets laid off,” he said, “or not to retire when other aspects of the family income are in jeopardy.”
Although the shortage has been hectic for both nurses and patients, Adamson said it’s a recent development.
“Just two years ago, it was a whole lot better. Things ran definitely more smoothly – you weren’t so stressed every shift that you were constantly reacting to the bells, reacting to the patients’ needs,” Adamson said. “You were ahead of it little bit. You had a chance to go into the room, assess the patient, get a feel for the plan of the day and exercise that plan.”
“You’re always reacting, and you miss subtle changes with the patient,” she added. “Every day, every patient, every hour.”
Sean Carlin can be reached at email@example.com.