By KEVIN BESSLER
The Center Square
A shortage of nurses has been developing in Illinois for many years and officials say things could get worse.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused nurses to retire or leave the profession, but there were regional shortages before then, especially in downstate rural Illinois.
According to the 2022 Trends in Nurse Staffing survey, more than 25 percent of respondents said they have more than 100 current openings for nursing positions. In 2019, only 9 percent reported over 100 openings.
“Hospitals need cost-effective solutions to assist with the nursing shortage, including temporary and permanent recruitment, better and flexible shifts, and the increased usage of international nurses,” the report said.
Susan Swart, executive director of the Illinois Nurses Foundation, said with fewer nursing students coming into the pipeline, the shortage will be compounding.
“We are not producing enough nurses to fill the vacancies, so by 2025, the estimation is we are going to be short 15,000 registered nurses in the state of Illinois,” said Swart.
Also fueling the nursing shortage is a lack of nursing faculty, which could impede the number of nursing students at schools, and many of them are close to retirement.
“Seventy percent of our faculty are 55 years of age or older,” said Swart.
Registered nurses at the University of Chicago Medical Center recently held what they called a “protest for patient safety.” They aired their complaints which centered mostly about short staffing.
There are efforts being made to address the shortage. An agreement between Memorial Health and the Illinois State University Mennonite College of Nursing is expected to bring up to 48 students to Springfield next year. Memorial Health will provide $6 million during the next decade to support the partnership.
The American Nurse Association reported this year that more than 100,000 nursing jobs will be added each year starting now, more than any other profession in the U.S.
The Center Square Staff Reporter Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.