Healthcare industry sees shortage of workers, 80K nurses left field in 2020

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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – Medical experts in Horry County say there’s a shortage of healthcare workers throughout the system.

If you go online to any unemployment site and type in the Myrtle Beach area, hundreds of healthcare jobs are open.

Lorraine Aldrich, Horry Georgetown Technical College nursing professor and academic chair, says healthcare worker shortages, especially for nurses, have been a long time coming.

Aldrich weighed in on the contributing factors and said the field goes through a cycle of shortages.

Shortages result from a hard-hit pandemic keeping hospital beds near or at maximum capacity.

“I think we go through cycles, I think that’s what people need to realize, nursing as a profession always goes through a cycle where we have shortages, and we are consistently paying attention to that issue, is just more dramatic because of the pandemic,” Aldrich said.

Not only that, but there is a wave of nurses across the field getting ready to retire.

Nurses are not only short in the medical field, but in the classroom too.

“If I had to look at a gap, that would probably be the gap is how do we make more nurses interested in being nurse educators, and then provide those resources so they can create as many nurses as we are going to need in the future,” Aldrich said.

Nurses leaving the workforce grew from nearly 40,000 in 2010 to 80,000 by 2020, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

The AACN reports a long list of contributing factors to nursing shortages, including a lack of nursing educators, a significant wave of nurses retiring, and a longer life expectancy calling for more help.

“We are also an industry that has learned from technology. People are living longer. They have more problems and need more services, whether in a community setting or inpatient setting, so that nurses will cont. To be in demand and we need to be ready to meet that challenge,” Aldrich said.

Despite the pandemic, Aldrich said they had not seen a decrease in students in or applying to their medical program and are still, if not more, committed to the healthcare profession.

For local healthcare employment opportunities, click here.

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