ANA Asks Congress to Investigate Root Cause of Nurse Shortage
The American Nurses Association (ANA) continues to call on Congress and the Administration to take meaningful action to address the chronic causes of cyclical nursing shortages that have occurred over the past 50 years. While overhead costs associated with staffing agencies have recently been targeted as a driver of staffing shortages, it is only one symptom of a much larger systemic problem. More needs to be done to effectively investigate and mitigate the root causes of nursing shortages. Changes must be made in providing better work environments, appropriate compensation and benefits, and making patient safety a top priority to attract and retain nurses today and in the future.
Nurses, like all other Americans, have the right to seek employment that meets their financial needs, allows them to work in safe conditions and to provide quality care for their patients. Even before the pandemic, many nurses felt undervalued in how they are treated by their employers. The pandemic has exacerbated this issue. Nurses report that they are working too many hours with too many patients, and many are under constant stress given their responsibilities plus the fear of being assaulted at work. Staffing agencies may in some circumstances provide them greater resources, flexibility, and choices about their work environments. Many nurses are choosing this option or retiring and leaving direct patient care or the profession altogether.
Recently, Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) coauthored a letter to the White House COVID-19 Task Force calling for an investigation into staffing agencies for price gouging during the pandemic. While we applaud efforts to end price gouging by agencies, we call on Congress to ensure that travel nurses are not negatively impacted in the process.
The nursing shortage crisis will not be solved by a short-term piecemeal approach. Nurses across the continuum of care are the backbone on the health care system, and deserve to be respected and valued. We call on health care systems and private payors to join nurses in working with Congress and the Administration to find a sustainable solution to address nurse shortages.