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Stateside Podcast: What's driving nursing shortages?

MedicAlert UK on Unsplash

Nikia Parker's dream job was nursing.

"I tell people nursing is what I was put on this earth to do, specifically emergency room nursing," Parker said. "It's not just what I do. It's literally a part of who I am."

The COVID pandemic meant a constant strain on healthcare workers, and Parker was no exception. She, like many others, hoped that working conditions would improve as the pandemic slowed. Instead, she said, they only got worse.

Parker eventually decided to cut back to only one shift in the emergency room a week. She attributed the exodus of nurses like her from hospitals to the "moral injury" they suffer on the job.

"[Nurses] come to work to do the best that they can, and to help patients, and they feel like they're injuring people," Parker said. "That creates moral injury. It creates job dissatisfaction and it creates people leaving the profession."

Parker is not alone in her decision to step back from full-time nursing. A recent survey from the University of Michigan found thatnearly 40%of nurses in the state plan to leave their jobs in the next year. Christopher Friese is one of the researchers who worked on that survey, and he recently joined Michigan Radio Morning Edition host Doug Tribou to talk about what is driving nurses out of their jobs — and what we can do about it.

Listen to today's pod to hear more about Parker's experience, and hear Friese discuss solutions to the problem.

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April Van Buren is a producer for <i>Stateside</i>. She produces interviews for air as well as web and social media content for the show.
Cate Weiser joined the Stateside team as an intern in May 2023, and is a second-year at the University of Chicago.