Coronavirus is a big deal right now. But beyond this hopefully-short-term pandemic, we still face a huge problem: a shortage of nurses.

Who will take care not only of the people infected with coronavirus, but the massive number of other people with conditions like heart disease and cancer?

These conditions alone total to more than 32 million people in our United States of America (CDC data and statistics, 2019). With so many diseases to deal with currently, we must ensure that we have a robust garrison of nurses.

Numbers are great, God-given tools that we can use to illustrate points; I will use some state statistics to illustrate the nursing shortage as it pertains to us in the Evergreen State.

According to 2019 statistics, there are approximately 7.615 million people in the state and 71,386 licensed nurses (Washington Center for Nursing, 2019). According to the Office of Financial Management of Washington, the estimated population growth rate has been around 1.6% (Zhao, 2018).

Logic would imply that the growth rates of nurses should be equal to the growth rate of the population in order to maintain current nurse-patient ratios. However, the growth rate for nursing is at approximately 1.3%. Although the difference seems relatively small, 0.3% will mean there will be a lack of 214 nurses next year based on present number of nurses and projected growth rates.

And, if this rate remains unchanged, we will miss almost 1,000 nurses by 2025 (and this does not even account for nurses who retire each year)!

Here is the bottom line: More nurses equal better care.

Research done by the British Medical Journal in 2006 found that both the quality, and the quantity of the nurses had a huge impact on the mortality rates of the facilities. Nurses are just like every other human: The more things they must do, the harder it will be to do them well. It is much easier to take care of five patients than it is to take care of 10.

So, if you know of anyone considering becoming a nurse, for your own sake, encourage them to explore this option!

Juan Stein

Walla Walla