NYSNA was proud to celebrate Nurses’ Week, May 6 through May 12. We honor the sacrifices nurses make to keep patients and communities safe. We recognize the ways in which nurses lead in and outside of hospitals and health systems. We also express gratitude for nurses’ leadership in advocating for local and state polices to ensure Medicare for All, action on the climate crisis, improved working conditions, funding for safety net hospitals, and increased support for healthcare workers. Nurses routinely give of themselves, even when doing comes at great personal and professional costs.
“I would say that what they teach us in nursing school isn’t entirely correct,” said Margaret Bravo, BSN, RN, at Montefiore Nyack. “We are taught that nursing is both a science and an art. They left out the part about heart. It’s heart every time we advocate for a patient. In March of 2020, that heart showed true courage when nurses ran towards the unknown in the midst of the pandemic.”
Recruit and Retain
If health systems want to honor nurses, they must do more to recruit, hire and retain them. Hospitals cannot meet “surge and flex” demands or even safe care standards when there are not enough nurses. Moreover, healthcare professionals have faced traumatizing conditions. Many feel ignored and abandoned by the very agencies charged with protecting nurses and their patients from harm.
It is no secret that some healthcare workers have lost hope that working conditions will improve. Consequently, many have left the industry while others are taking temporary traveler jobs because they offer much better working conditions.
We are clear about what needs to happen. To fix staffing shortages, hospitals and health systems must stop the exodus of nurses, try to win others back, and once again make nursing attractive and fulfilling.
We continue to urge legislators to:
- Require employers to follow the intent of the law with the creation of staffing committees;
- Expand tuition support and nursing school capacity;
- Enact all provisions of the Nurse Practitioner Modernization Act;
- Create a dedicated fund for hospitals to achieve safe staffing levels and provide competitive wages and benefits; and
- Reject quick fix proposals that will lower practice standards. We want to see a world where nurses do not have to unhealthily compromise themselves in pursuit of serving others. As we celebrate healthcare professionals, we vow to continue advocating for a world where nurses and healthcare workers are seen, affirmed, and supported.