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Nationwide Nursing Shortage Having Impacts in Wisconsin

WAOW Television

Over the past year and a half, health workers have been proclaimed heroes by the public. Signs saying "heroes work here" display across many hospitals, clinics, and front line offices.

Yet with all of that support the field of nursing is still experiencing a worker shortage. This scarcity has been going on for nearly ten years, experts claim, and was heightened by the pandemic.

"So because of this huge growing nursing venue of positions we see a shortage because nurses are valued more than ever." said Aspirus Float Pool Manager Lindsey Graff, "so not only working the front lines with our patients in direct face to face patient contact but also serving in roles outside of the bedside serving the bedside staff."

The University of St. Augustine reported, as of 2020 there are four million nurses in the United States and 88,000 of them are in Wisconsin. Another one million nurses will be needed in by 2030 to keep up with demand as the baby boomer generation gets older.

Hospitals like Aspirus are using incentives to grow their nursing staff including flexible working schedules and sign on bonuses.

Talent Delivery Partner at Aspirus Julie Riemer saying, "maybe it's to go on to school and get their master’s degrees and or get the nurse practitioner so those incentives can be used in many ways including to advance their career."

Riemer says the pandemic has actually brought in a new wave of applicants who want to help.

"Young people are resilient" Riemer said, "we see a lot of the newer grads who have been in the COVID-19 units and they thrived in there and they are eager for that interaction, so they have really done really well."

Health experts warn that if the shortage isn’t fixed there will be higher risk of errors, longer waits for appointments and shorter visits.

Several area schools offer nursing programs ranging from two years to four years. Aspires also offer an internship for student nurses.