Strained by the pandemic, nurses are leaving the profession at an unusually high pace. That has created a nurse shortage many hospitals are trying to fill.
The problem is nationwide, and Connecticut is not immune. Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH) is one of many hospitals feeling the strain.
“You hear about the great resignation, what we have in nursing is the great migration,” said YNHH Chief Nurse Executive Beth Beckman.
Beckman said the pandemic has taken a toll. Nurses, worn out from the demand, are leaving the business or finding lower pressure roles.
“There’s a lot of people suffering from emotional wear and tear, with what the last two years have meant,” Beckman said.
Executives like Beckman are relying of an influx of recent and future graduates to help replenish the workforce.
Camden Angel is a recent Central Connecticut State University grad who, during his clinical hours of study, said he saw what nurses are going through first-hand.
“They sometimes have to work five or six days a week. 12 hour shifts each day,” Angel said. “It really just takes a toll on a person.”
Citing national statistics, Beckman said the annual turnover rate for nurses, which used to be in the single digits, is now between 18 and 25%.
To compensate, YNHH has partnered with four universities, developing programs with the aim of adding over 500 nurses in the next four years. Among those schools is Quinnipiac University, which is accepting 25% more students into their accelerated second-degree program.
“Those students will be what we’re calling QU, Yale scholars,” Lisa Rebeschi, associate dean of Quinnipiac’s School of Nursing.
Rebeschi said the ‘QU, Yale Scholars’ will be doing clinical rotations within the YNHH system, and Yale is providing a financial incentive for them through scholarships.
Future nurses could come from several area schools. UConn said its nursing school has seen a 25% increase in application from January 2020 to January ’22. The University of Hartford enrollment in their full-time nursing program is up over 45% when compared to last year.
At Quinnipiac on Monday, some first-year nursing students were going through orientation, preparing for their future.
“I want to go into neonatology, which is working with premature babies in the ICU,” Taylor Alibrio said.
Those choosing this path say they understand the importance.
“I definitely think the impact your nurses have on you, in the hospital environment especially, really makes or breaks your experience,” said incoming nursing student Taylor Patton.