I posted this yesterday at my Substack account; please drop by and sing up for free updates!


One of the big problems hospitals are facing is a shortage of bedside nurses. A facility can have oodles of beds (that is, metal structures in rooms with mattress on top, upon which one places a sick or injured person). But if there aren’t nurses to take care of patients, then the bed is a moot point. I’ve encountered this a lot during the COVID pandemic.

Like all shortages, this one is multifactorial. A few reasons:

We aren’t educating enough nurses.

Nurses are often treated dismissively by administrators. For instance, when subject to violent attack it is not uncommon for them to be encouraged not to pursue charges. They are endlessly doing busy-work. These days they have tremendous computer charting requirements which can be very frustrating when attempting to provide bedside care.

Nursing is dangerous. Not only because of assault as I mentioned, but because infectious diseases and other means of injury abound.

Nursing is physically and emotionally exhausting so nurses all too often find themselves ready leave the chaos and stress of bedside care for other situations.

The schedule is daunting. Working holidays and weekends, evenings and nights can be very hard on one’s family, social life and body.

It makes sense to leave for more stable, less stressful positions as office nurses, school nurses, educators, administrators, informatics/computer experts, nurse legal review jobs and other positions.

Many nurses are becoming nurse practitioners with the promise of higher salaries. This also takes them away from traditional bedside nursing as they fill different roles in the healthcare ecosystem.

And here’s one: nurses who faced COVID before there was a vaccine, and often had the disease at some point themselves, were fired because they didn’t want to be vaccinated. As I’ve stated many times, I’m pro-vaccine. But firing the unvaccinated is a bit silly. They were welcome to risk their lives pre-vaccine, but now they’re considered too dangerous to work?

I’m not a nurse, so I’m sure there are factors I’m missing here. But in light of all of these things, from training shortfalls to job dissatisfaction, is it any wonder that many are going on the road to seek higher pay?

This is even more true since nurses who powered through the pandemic like rock-stars found themselves making the same money while new hires made much more, as well as signing bonuses; because of staffing shortages.

When qualified nurses see jobs offering $5000 to $7000 or more per week, why wouldn’t they go if the situation is better for them and for their families?

There have been rumors that Congress was seeking salary caps for travel nurses. According to Politifact, that isn’t exactly true, but only sort of, kind of a consideration.


When one reviews the salaries of executives in healthcare, it’s hard to be sympathetic to even a passing suggestion, even on the state level, that travel nurses have their salaries capped.


Like it or not, American healthcare is at least sort of capitalist (admittedly it’s a very constrained market that’s not truly free). But as we pay homage to a free market, here’s a useful bit from the Foundation for Economic Education on why these caps are a bad idea:


If systems want to cut back on travelers and save money, then they need to look at the hospital bed they made and that they’re currently lying in.

And administrators need to find ways to fix the sources of the problem, not the symptoms. Until then, travelers are going to be enjoying some well-earned compensation and power.


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