There were an impressive 22 million workers in the healthcare industry, accounting for 14% of all US workers, according to the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey (or ACS). However, when it comes to supporting nurses in 2021 — arguably when they need it the most — knowing what to do to help can seem daunting. If you’re looking to gain insight into the difficulties that nurses in North Carolina face, as well as how you can productively show your support, here’s what you need to know.
A shortage — and other difficulties
It’s important to realize that nurses of today in North Carolina face a number of difficulties in 2021, one of the main issues being staff shortages. This is due to a variety of factors, including low pay for nursing school faculty, which makes it more difficult to create more nurses, as teaching often pays less than practicing. Many nurses choosing to retire, as well as the difficulties imposed by the coronavirus pandemic also play key roles that contribute to the shortage. Erin Fraher, a UNC—CH associate professor and director of the Carolina Health Workforce Research Center notes that in 2033, North Carolina is expected to fall a whopping 12,000 nurses short (of the 125,000 that the state’s population is expected to need).
Still grappling with the pandemic, many North Carolina nurses are working longer hours due to the shortages, and are undoubtedly overworked and emotionally exhausted as a result. With the spike in COVID cases due largely in part to unvaccinated individuals (according to health experts), work has become increasingly frustrating to nurses who specialize in the area. Due to such difficulties, showing support for these healthcare professionals is needed now more than ever, and there are several ways that you can do your part.
Productively showing your support
With a variety of ways to actively and productively show your support for nurses in North Carolina, it’s necessary to realize that perhaps one of the simplest and most helpful things that you can do is to comply with health regulations — such as wearing a mask and washing your hands in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In addition to getting vaccinated, other ways that you can help NC nurses include being an advocate, such as by routinely visiting the American Nurses Association’s updated list of ways that you can help in regards to current issues. Additionally, giving to charities that support healthcare professionals or even asking a nurse who happens to be a neighbor or family member how you can help them personally (whether it be by running an errand or by walking their dog while they’re at work, etc.), helping out can be done in both major and minor ways that all have a strong and positive impact for those working in the industry.
Taking your inspiration to the next level
If you’ve been inspired by a nursing professional, taking your inspiration to the next level could mean changing your career path and joining the healthcare industry yourself. Not only will this help with the shortage, but doing so is easier than ever — especially with online programs offering an option that’s oftentimes more flexible and affordable. With notable schooling options including studying with programs, via some of the best nursing schools like Duke University, MSN programs in fields such as Psychiatric Mental Health Care and DNP programs in Nursing Anesthetist, there are several options to fit anyone’s particular interests.
When it comes to nursing professionals and the challenges they face now in 2021, there are a number of different ways that one can productively help. From simply asking a nurse how you can help out to following health guidelines or even taking your inspiration to the next level by becoming a nurse yourself, there are a myriad of ways to make a positive contribution.