U.S. hospitals have faced nurse shortages periodically over years. The demand was high even before the pandemic, but due to wave after wave of COVID-19, registered nurses (RNs) and their patients are facing a crisis of unsafe staffing levels. The arrival of the omicron variant may put more people in hospitals and place more strain on staff.
National Nurses United, the largest union of registered nurses in the US., is urging congress to pass legislation to address issues related to the staffing crisis. The union contends that hospitals have endangered the safety and health of nurses by putting them at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19, mental distress, injuries, and workplace violence. By doing so, they state that nurses are fleeing these working conditions as a result. They also state that passing legislation could “end the industry-created nurse staffing crisis” by setting mandated staffing levels in hospitals, preventing workplace violence, and other measures to improve working conditions for nurses.
National Nurses United is calling on Congress to:
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, sponsor of H.R. 3165, the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act said, “There is no shortage of registered nurses. There is a shortage of good, permanent nursing jobs where registered nurses are fully valued for their work. We celebrate nurses. We call them heroes. If we truly value their work and their sacrifices, we must give them the support that they are asking for.”