By Abby Gunderson
Concerns about hospital bed numbers have risen as the number of people infected with the COVID-19 delta variant has increased.
The real problem, however, may not be the number of hospital beds, but the number of skilled professionals working in hospitals.
According to registerednursing.org, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an alarming shortage in the nursing force. With recent concerns about the delta variant, the demand for nurses has skyrocketed. According to LinkedIn, nursing has been the fourth most posted job in the nation.
In Utah, like many other states, the supply is not meeting the demand. Janelle Macintosh has been a faculty member at the BYU College of Nursing for 10 years. As a mentor to nursing students and a former registered nurse, Macintosh says many nurses are feeling the pressure of the pandemic.
“That burnout, that fear. You’re asking me to take care of somebody that is literally life and death, potentially, and I don’t feel adequate sometimes,” Macintosh said.
Olivia Parkin is a third year nursing student at BYU with plans to work in emergency medicine. The nursing shortage guarantees Parkin a job after graduation, but she recognizes the cost of burnout.
“I think there’s always going to be an increase of nurses soon with new grads and stuff like that, but it’s definitely a concern,” Parkin said.
At BYU, the curriculum in the School of Nursing has adjusted to include several courses on stress management and mental health. Professors are hoping to prioritize self-care before caring for patients and preserve the future workforce.
“I think there has been an adjustment there, especially with mental health being addressed,” Parkin said.
Though the concern of burnout remains, the new focus on mental health and self-care is a hopeful prospect.