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Overworked, underpaid nurses

We can only commiserate with our nursing heroes. Considered as the most trusted profession, nursing has undoubtedly a direct impact on the health and well-being of patients.



Parents with children taking up nursing in the Philippines are now getting worried.

The recent spike of Covid-19 cases, considered the third wave of the ongoing pandemic, is exacerbating the ongoing crisis for the nursing workforce. The nearly-overwhelmed health care system in the country has led to a burnout for many nurses.

Add to that the low pay, overworked situation of these medical frontliners and you can’t blame why many are raising their hands in futility over the situation.

As a result, many of our nurses are quitting their jobs, creating vacancies in the hospital staff.

Even in Australia, a country with a modern health care system, 62 percent of hospitals have reported a vacancy rate higher than 7.5 percent, according to a 2021 NSI Nursing Solutions report.

We’re pretty sure there are as many, if not a higher vacancy rate in the Philippines considering the brain drain that has left the Philippines losing out to higher paying countries abroad.

Indeed, the global pandemic has only worsened problems that have long existed within the nursing profession. These include widespread stress and burnout, health and safety issues, depression and work-related post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD and even increased risk of suicide.

Studies have shown that nurses need to contend with growing workloads and inadequate staffing, or not having the right number of nurses on the right units to ensure that patients receive safe quality care.

Our proponents of tender loving care must also work extra hours beyond their shift because of staffing shortages. All these issues, according to studies, can lead to low job satisfaction among them and most likely a contributing factor to their leaving the noble profession, a trend that has been there even well before the pandemic struck.

We really can’t blame our nursing frontliners for agitating for a work stoppage considering the delayed payment of their special risk allowances.

Like many health care workers, they are physically and emotionally exhausted after working in what has been described as a “war zone” for nearly two years now.

There have been reports of nurses suffering from trauma of caring for extremely sick Covid patients. Add to that the fact that most of our medical institutions are experiencing shortages of oxygen, equipment and other needed supplies to keep patients alive.

As more nurses leave and quit their jobs, patient care will no doubt suffer.

Research has shown a relationship between nurse staffing ratios and patient safety. Increased workload and stress can put nurses in situations that are more likely to lead to medical errors. Lower nurse staffing and higher patient loads per nurse are associated with an increased risk for patients of dying in the hospital.

It has been found that hospitals cannot simply open beds if there are no nurses to staff them. They are even forced to shut down emergency rooms and turn away patients in need of medical care.
And that is not only true in large cities. Rural areas, it is said, are also struggling.

We can only commiserate with our nursing heroes. Considered as the most trusted profession, nursing has undoubtedly a direct impact on the health and well-being of patients. The health of the nation’s nursing workforce is fundamental to our health care industry.

We should therefore take care of our nurses, too. They are not only care givers. They are also role models, educators, mentors and advocates.

Let us offer our resources and programs to them during the pandemic that would undoubtedly reduce their stress, promote resiliency and increase well-being.

Let us give them what they give us — tender, loving care.