Andrea M Whitchurch

While I agree that the nursing shortage needs to be addressed, I disagree with the author’s solution of placing senior nursing students in hospitals to fulfill their graduation requirements and bridge the staffing gap. I work in an academic medical center. Today’s senior nursing students had reduced (if any) clinical experiences due to the pandemic. Much of their learning was remote or distant. We must continue to keep patient safety as a priority. Yes, those students are capable of performing some nursing tasks, but not all and not individually. If this is a viable solution, it definitely needs to be well planned out and executed to ensure that 1-patient care and safety isn’t compromised, and 2- that it doesn’t create even more of a burden on an already taxed nursing staff. Teaching while providing care adds another level of stress that not everyone is prepared for or wants to deal with at this point. Yes, we need more nurses, and yes we need to be prepared to educate them but we do have to be careful how we do it. State nurse practice laws do need adjusting, and nursing schools need more faculty in order to allow for more students. Hospitals aren’t the only places that are experiencing shortages of nurses, outpatient areas such as clinics and home health agencies, skilled nursing facilities, etc. are as well. Team nursing using LVN’s in tandem with RN’s is an also an option to be explored.