What is behind Alabama’s nursing shortage?

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (WBRC) – Hospitals across our state are concerned that we may not only be facing an increase in the number of COVID patients, but a shortage of nurses as well.

The Birmingham Black Nurses Association and the Alabama State Nurses Association have both said there is an ebb and flow of nurse availability every few years.

But both agencies said the current nursing shortage in our state has more to do with pay than COVID.

“The shortage of nurses is reciprocated every three to five years. Sometimes nurses are in research, nurse advocacy, or policy positions.

Birmingham Black Nurses Association President Alean Nash said there is now more demand for nurses as more people are landing in hospital with COVID.

It’s a nationwide problem, but Nash said the biggest problem in Alabama was keeping nurses.

“Other states pay two to three times as much as nurses in Alabama, so that’s also a factor,” Nash said.

“What stops a nurse from going to a neighboring state, especially if she lives near a border and returns home to her family? Said Alabama State Nursing Association president Dr. Lindsey Harris.

She said nurses in Alabama are paid 8% less than other southeastern states.

They also work alongside itinerant nurses who are paid even more for the same work.

“This is something that we know our nurses have really made their voices heard, and the nurses are really concerned,” said Dr. Harris.

She said the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted several issues within the healthcare system, including the shortage of nurses.

She said more will have to be done to recruit and retain nurses.

“It’s such a great profession and one of the things here in the state of Alabama that we will need to look at is our salary and make sure we have a safe staff for nurses,” explained Dr. Harris.

She said this pandemic had put a strain on nurses, saying they were tired but resilient and their passion for the Alabamians was what kept them going.

Dr Harris said we all need to do our part to keep nurses and ourselves safe by getting vaccinated.

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