COVID-19 Changed the Nursing Profession: PRN’s Here to Stay

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We’ve passed the year benchmark of the global pandemic and as the statistics for COVID-19 continue to ebb and flow in waves, the exhaustion, burnout, depression, and anxiety are very real demons haunting our healthcare professionals. 

Nursing Staff Shortages are Old News but Remin a Current Concern

Nurses, nurse unions, nurse leaders, and nurse organizations have been shouting it from the rooftops for years that we have a nurse shortage. According to the  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession for registered nurses (RNs) is projected to grow at 7% through the year 2029, while the outlook for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) will grow at 9%, and certified nursing assistants at 8%. These growth rates are rated as faster than the average growth rate of all occupations.

Nursing Shortages Are a Global Problem

Moreover, it’s not just the United States. Around the world, nurses and their patients are struggling due to nursing staff shortages. In an awful irony, just when everyone was united and poised to kick start a global campaign for nursing (remember that? 2020 The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife) the novel coronavirus broke out and crisis response took over everywhere.

ICN Report Trauma to Nursing Workforce 

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) conducted a survey of their more than 130 national nurses associations (NNAs) and their affiliates and the results are saddening at the least, and alarming at worst. In a press statement ICN CEO Howard Catton said:

“We are witnessing a unique and complex occupational trauma that is affecting the global nursing workforce. Nurses are dealing with relentless, unprecedented demands from their patients, resulting in physical exhaustion. But they are also facing enormous mental health pressures leading to serious psychological distress.”

You can download and read the entire report by clicking here, but we’ll summarize it for you: the pandemic is having a trauma effect on nurses.

  • Almost 80% of the NNAs under the ICN report mental health distress from their nurses.
  • More than 50% of nurses surveyed in the U.S. reported feeling overwhelmed.
  • More than 60% of nurses surveyed in the U.S. reported sleeping difficulties.
  • 80% of nurses surveyed in Spain reported anxiety and burnout.
  • More than half of nurses surveyed in Australia reported burnout.

American Nurses Association and Affiliates Survey Shows Progress

The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) partnered with the ANA (American Nurses Association) and Johnson & Johnson for a study of the pandemic’s impact on the nursing profession and in contrast to the report from ICN these findings provide some encouragement.

In spite of the trauma gained from working crisis response, these survey results show some small improvements:

“64% of nurses who spent more than half their time with COVID-19 patients are satisfied with opportunities to work on collaborative interprofessional teams, compared with 57% of nurses who spent less than half their time with COVID-19 patients.”

Furthermore, of these nurses who are satisfied with work opportunities:

  • “50% are satisfied with opportunities for professional advancement (compared to 43%)
  • 48% are satisfied with opportunities to lead programs or initiatives (compared to 40%)
  • 44% are satisfied with opportunities to influence decisions about workplace organization (compared to 39%)”

For more on this survey, click here.

Staffing Challenges for Healthcare Administrators

The effects of COVID on the nursing profession are being researched and analyzed, therefore the two studies mentioned don’t have the entire picture. However, we know enough to be concerned. Burnout, anxiety, exhaustion, and mental stress in nurses mean the already challenging landscape of nurse staffing is now pocked with sandpits and rocks.

Certain nursing specialties are in high demand almost continuously:

While these specialties are steadily rising

Elective surgeries that were delayed due to COVID are being scheduled again, and operating rooms are busier than ever. Keep watch on these two specialties not only because the workload is ramping up, but because these specialties will be facing a loss of experience as many of their number reach retirement age. For these reasons, we have seen a rise in the use of PRN staffing solutions, which is good for both nurses and facilities.

What Does PRN Mean?

The term PRN stands for per diem, which means “as needed” in healthcare jargon. The PRN abbreviation is shorthand for the Latin words “pro re nata”. When healthcare administrators can’t adequately staff their facilities for whatever reason, PRN staffing can literally save the day.

Thanks, in part to COVID, the nationwide community pushed for more things to be accessible and/or accomplished virtually and this push resulted not only in a bump in Telehealth but in staffing solutions as well.

NursaTM Is a Simple Solution to a Staffing Problem

Our PRN staffing agency, NursaTM, conducts the entire PRN staffing process online via desktop or our free and easy-to-use smartphone application.

Facility administrators can create multiple listings for the shifts they require PRN staff, and immediately those PRN shifts are available in real-time to the hundreds of RNs, LPNs, and CNAs looking for jobs in geographical range for viewing. Facilities can post any time day or night any day of the year.

Written by Miranda Booher, RN

Miranda is a 14-year registered nurse with a healthy background in travel nursing and digital marketing. She brings an interesting combination of stellar copywriting skills and first-hand nursing experience to the table. Miranda understands the industry and has an impeccable ability to write about it. And speaking of travel - Miranda currently lives in Bolivia, though she maintains an active Registered Nurse license in the state of Ohio and stays current on the latest healthcare news through her writing. When she is not creating killer copy, or serving others through her work as a nurse, you can find her hanging out on the beach with her husband, three beautiful kids, and their pups,

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