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'We are in an acute staffing crisis': Nursing students step in to help busy hospitals

Hospital Hallway
Posted at 6:08 PM, Oct 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 18:39:20-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Hospitals continue to have a hard time with staffing, but there is some good news.

Indiana Hospital Association says COVID-19 hospitalizations have decreased by about 21%, but the stress on healthcare workers is still present.

More than 2,000 people are currently at local hospitals battling the virus, on top of others who need care. The majority of those patients are unvaccinated, and nurses and staff members are tired.

"Right now, we have this acute crisis in staffing," Indiana Hospital Association President Brian Tabor explained.

Healthcare workers have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic caring for sick patients, serving as the middle man for families and their loved ones, with many witnessing patients take their last breath; and it's taken a toll on them.

"We have many long-term caregivers that have said, 'We need a break,' and they take a timeout and some may have even left the profession. Honestly, some of the death and strain we have seen with COVID-19, it's going to be a challenge not only for the next few months, but I think the next few years," Tabor said. "Kind of an unprecedented challenge."

To help fill the void, Franciscan Health said it's allowing some nursing students to assist in COVID-19 units and other areas. IU Health said nursing students help with clinical rotations and are encouraged to apply to bedside registered nurse roles.

"They are tired and it takes the load off of them, so help them out as well, and help other people," IUPUI nursing student, Manjit Kailey said.

Kailey, along with Jordan Rhodes and Julia Wayler, are all in IUPUI's first year accelerated nursing program.

They say they're inspired by their peers helping inside hospitals and are ready to step in once they're given the green light.

"It just means a lot to me to be able to get to the front line so I can do what I want to do and help get them better," Wayler said.

"I'm in this profession because I've always, always had a passion for working with people," Rhodes added. "I actually work in a hospital right now so I have been able to see firsthand what things are like and I'm able to take my career a step further. A lot of changes, especially with visitors and people not being able to see their families. That's been the biggest thing that's struck me is you have to be those people's family members when they don't have anybody."

And, while it's a stressful time for healthcare employees, these students say the long hours and sacrifice are appreciated.

"I think we have awesome health professionals training us," Wayler said.

RELATED | A nursing shortage is impacting local hospitals; Increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, staffing shortages puts strain on local hospitals

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