EDITORIAL: Nursing shortage hitting Connecticut hard

Connecticut is facing a nursing crisis. While the state’s shortage of nurses began before the pandemic, the Connecticut Mirror reports that COVID-19 has only exacerbated staffing shortages in the medical field, a product of many compounding issues. 

For one, as the Mirror reported, nurses burnt out by the pandemic are leaving emergency departments, intensive care units and other high-stress positions for less stressful ones, or leaving the field altogether. Additionally, younger nurses are choosing higher-paying travel nurse positions. That’s leaving high levels of vacancy in crucial areas. 

One of the biggest challenges in fixing the nursing shortage in Connecticut is the fact that qualified nurses require intensive schooling, and nursing schools need teachers — another non-lucrative but necessary position. Connecticut’s colleges and universities lack the resources to meet the needs of both student interest levels and the needs of the healthcare workforce, said the Mirror report.. 

Essentially, there are not enough nurses in Connecticut nor are there enough nationwide. And the system to generate qualified nurses faces significant issues inhibiting the number of new nurses the state can train to begin with. 

However, there are some remedies in the pipeline in terms of legislation. The Mirror noted Senate Bill 251 calls for an expansion of healthcare academic programs, distance learning development, on-the-job education opportunities and recruitment plans. This is a step in the right direction, but progress is slow moving, as a plan for these programs is not due until Jan. 1, 2024.

Additionally, initiatives to make schooling easier with regards to the financial burden would encourage more people to enter the profession. For instance, the Mirror reported that Connecticut’s annual budget bill this year included tuition repayment, housing for healthcare workers, “premium pay” for those who worked at the height of COVID-19 and expanding mental health services.

Nursing is the kind of profession that has always drawn interest, especially from those who have an intrinsic desire to help others. There’s no reason to say this is no longer the case, but the nursing shortage in Connecticut still demands immediate attention and action.


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