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  • Reuland Law, LLC

Pains in the Profession of Nursing

A recent study shows that nurses in Illinois are worried about the state of their profession, with a particular concern about understaffing leading to dangerous conditions for the patients they are trying to help.

The Illinois Economic Policy Institute in conjunction with the University of Illinois Labor and Relations Project for Middle Class Renewal recently published results from a comprehensive survey of Illinois nurses. Grace Dunn, Robert Bruno, Ph.D., and Andrew Wilson, MHRLR, authored the study, available here. The survey of 385 registered nurses in Illinois found understaffing and high rates of moral distress burdens nurses and makes their jobs harder. The pressure on nurses is so high that many (34% of the respondents) were considering leaving the profession within the next twelve months.

The study reveals some startling statistics. By 2025, the authors project, Illinois will have a shortage of nearly 15,000 registered nurses. The nursing labor force is aging, and more than half of nurses are 55 or older. In 2022, there were approximately 7,800 job openings but only around 6,000 new nurses who passed the National Council Licensure Examination in Illinois.

With such understaffing, nurses are feeling the pressure. The study's authors summarize some of these difficulties in a chart of topline findings about nurse staffing, moral distress, and labor shortages:

Nurses provide critical care to patients. When a nursing home or hospital does not manage their facility well and provide adequate staffing, the risk of injuries to patients increases dramatically. Risks include:

  • Death;

  • Lapses in psychiatric care;

  • Delayed of skipped patient education;

  • Delayed or skipped patient hygiene;

  • Documentation errors;

  • Miscommunication of critical information between treaters;

  • Delayed or skipped treatment.

Reuland Law handles nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Often, nurses and CNAs reveal that injuries and inadequate care occur when staffing shortages plague a facility. Facility managers and owners must take steps to improve working conditions for their staff, providing reasonable pay and ensuring that the nurses who are central to a patient's wellbeing have the support they need. The nursing profession is too important, and distressed staff can lead to serious medical errors.


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