Reporting series to share insight on pursuing a nursing career today
A May survey from Dallas’s AMN Healthcare shows that nearly one third of nurses across the country are likely to leave the profession. Ninety-four percent said there was a severe or moderate shortage of nurses in their area. And 80 percent expect the shortage to increase in the next five years.
KUT healthcare reporter Olivia Aldridge has been covering local nursing issues, including the June walkout from Ascension Seton and the subsequent three-day lockout, and agrees the profession is facing myriad challenges – including here in Central Texas.
“The shortage has been building in recent years with not enough nurses being hired and retained, and veteran nurses choosing to retire or leave the profession altogether. Some blame it on low pay and poor working conditions,” says Aldridge.
Most agree the pandemic exacerbated these issues.
According to the survey, of particular concern is that younger nurses reported lower job satisfaction and more negative responses to questions about their mental health and wellbeing at work compared to veteran nurses. Younger nurses are struggling and may need more support than their more experienced colleagues.
“Nursing is a foundational job that keeps our healthcare system going,” says Aldridge. “But there’s a lot of upheaval and change, affecting the care people can access in our community. So in addition to a general shortage, there’s a shortage of seasoned mentors for young nurses entering the field.”
Aldridge is putting a face to young nurses navigating an evolving industry through a reporting series featuring nursing school graduate Jose Escobar. The series will air on KUT 90.5 throughout the coming months.
Escobar, who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing in May and is an amateur boxer in his free time, recently started working in the pediatric mental health unit at Dell Children’s Medical Center.
“He’s passionate about nursing and has a particular interest in children’s mental health,” Aldridge says.
“Through this series, I hope to provide some insight into what it’s like for someone who wants to pursue a career in nursing today – the challenges and the triumphs,” explains Aldridge. “Many nursing graduates enter the field and quickly decide they want to go in a different direction.”
In addition to sharing frequent updates on his fellowship (a one-year training period) with Aldridge, Escobar will keep an audio diary to contribute to the reporting series.
The first story in this series airs Monday, Oct. 16, on KUT 90.5 and on KUT.org.