Strained by the pandemic, nurses are leaving the profession at an unusually high rate. This has created a shortage of nurses that many hospitals are trying to fill.
The problem is national 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 nursing officer Beth Beckman.
Beckman said the pandemic has taken its toll. Nurses, exhausted by demand, leave the company or find less demanding positions.
“There are a lot of people who are suffering from emotional wear and tear with what the past two years have meant,” Beckman said.
Executives like Beckman are counting on an influx of recent and future graduates to help replenish the workforce.
Camden Angel is a recent graduate of Central Connecticut State University who, during his clinical study hours, said he saw firsthand what nurses go through.
“They sometimes have to work five or six days a week. 12 hours of work every day,” Angel said. “It really takes a toll on a person.”
Citing national statistics, Beckman said the annual turnover rate for nurses, which was once in the single digits, is now between 18 and 25%.
To compensate, YNHH has partnered with four universities, developing programs with the goal of adding more than 500 nurses over the next four years. Among these schools is Quinnipiac University, which is accepting 25% more students into its accelerated second degree program.
“These students will be what we call QU, Yale Scholars,” Lisa Rebeschi, associate dean of Quinnipiac’s School of Nursing.
Rebeschi said “QU, Yale Scholars” will do clinical rotations within the YNHH system, and Yale offers them a financial incentive through scholarships.
Future nurses could come from several schools in the region. UConn said its nursing school saw a 25% increase in applications from January 2020 to January 22. Enrollment at the University of Hartford in their full-time nursing program increased by more than 45% compared to last year.
In Quinnipiac on Monday, some first-year nursing students were attending an orientation, preparing for their future.
“I want to go into neonatology, which works with premature babies in intensive care,” Taylor Alibrio said.
Those who choose this path say they understand its importance.
“I really think the impact your nurses have on you, especially in the hospital setting, really makes or breaks your experience,” said incoming nursing student Taylor Patton.