HARRISBURG (March 1, 2022) – Senator Michele Brooks announced plans this past week to introduce legislation that will help address the unprecedented nurse workforce shortage in Pennsylvania.
“We are in the midst of the greatest health care workforce shortage to date,” said Brooks, who is Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, “and we need to take action to incentivize and promote growth in our health care sector, especially in rural communities. Living in rural Pennsylvania, I know firsthand about the need for access to health care in our local communities and nurses are an important part of that care.”
The co-sponsorship memorandum published by Brooks highlights numerous studies documenting the rapid decline in nurses entering the workforce, coupled with a large increase in those exiting their careers, many due to burnout and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is estimated that the health care sector has lost nearly half a million workers since February 2020 and predicts that more than 20 percent of the remaining nurse workforce may leave their positions in 2022.
“’The Great Resignation’ has hit health care hard,” says Brooks’ memorandum, which further lists early retirements, job transfers out of hospitals and acute care facilities, and contract staffing agencies among the factors that have led to this shortage.
“My legislation would allocate funds for accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programs for students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to pursue a nursing degree (BSN). The program would allow students to complete the BSN program in an accelerated fashion while still ensuring that they have all of the necessary clinical training and coursework, to ultimately result in more nurses joining the workforce more quickly.”
Additionally, nursing schools in the state, such as Duquesne University School of Nursing in Pittsburgh, are reporting a shortage of instructors, thus limiting the number of students who can be admitted into their nursing programs. The funding to support this legislation would not only help relieve the hemorrhaging in clinical settings, but also seeks to help replenish faculty positions in our institutions of higher learning.
CONTACT: Diane McNaughton