Nursing has never been an easy job, but with staffing shortages and patients piling up, the gig is getting tougher across the country.
Navicent Health in the small community Macon, Georgia, is the second-largest hospital in the state. Located just an hour outside of Atlanta, the hospital has more than 600 acute-care beds and 1,900 nurses. But attracting and retaining qualified staff has proven difficult, leaving Navicent with a shortage of over 150 nurses at a time when the aging population is creating myriad headwinds for the industry.
"The biggest challenge here is just the workload," chief nursing officer Tracey Blalock said. "It can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Caring for five or six patients can get very difficult if they're acutely ill."
The nursing shortage goes well beyond Macon, and the challenge is layered — patients are living longer than ever before, requiring more care than in the past. More nurses are also aging out of the workforce, leaving a skills gap as they wind down their careers. Recruiting new talent is more challenging in rural areas and smaller facilities, which offer lower pay and a less vibrant social scene.