On June 27, 2023, Texas and Kansas RNs took a historic strike against Ascension hospitals. These dedicated RNs marched to the picket lines, calling for better working conditions and improved patient care. Their mission? Ensuring safer healthcare for patients.
This article will delve into the critical healthcare issue these nurses are addressing and explore how the ongoing nursing shortage impacts them.
Understanding the Ascension Nurses’ Strike: The Essentials
June 27, 2023, marked the start of one-day strikes by Ascension nurses in Texas and Kansas. The National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) announced that the nurses were taking action because management refused to negotiate union contracts to tackle the staffing crisis.
It was the most significant nursing strike ever seen in Texas and Kansas. And it was all about one thing: patient safety.
In response, Ascension management locked out the striking nurses for three days. However, the threat didn’t deter the 2,000 RNs at Ascension via Christi St. Joseph Hospital (Wichita, Kan.), Ascension via Christi St. Francis Hospital (Wichita, Kan.), and Ascension Seton Medical Center (Austin, Texas).
The strikes happened because Ascension repeatedly rejected the nurses’ ideas for safer patient care during contract negotiations. The nurses wanted better staffing levels and more support to keep nurses on the job.
Even before the pandemic hit, Ascension cut corners by not hiring enough nurses. This meant nurses had to rush through their work, leaving less time for each patient. This is not just bad for patients, but it also takes a toll on the nurses themselves.
Short staffing can lead to moral injury and distress as nurses aren’t able to provide the care that can result in the best patient outcomes.¹
The US Nursing Shortage and Staffing Crisis: What’s Going Wrong?
Nursing should be a rewarding career, but it seems many nurses are quitting instead of sticking around. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates over 275,000 additional nurses to be needed from 2020 to 2030. That’s a big demand, with job opportunities growing at 9 percent from 2016 through 2026, much faster than other careers.²
Numerous issues of concern in the nursing crisis led to the lack of registered nurses in employment, including the problems of the Ascension nurses who participated in the strike.
A Glimpse into the Past
The National Library of Medicine points out that some of the possible causes of the shortage include the aging U.S. population, which consists of retiring older nurses. The baby boomers, who comprise a big chunk of our population, will all be seniors by 2029. That’s a 73% jump in people over 65. There are currently a million RNs over 50, so about a third of all nurses could retire in the next decade.³
Digging Deeper into the Staffing Dilemma
McKinsey conducted a frontline nursing survey of 368 U.S. frontline nurses in September 2022. And guess what? A lot of nurses are thinking about quitting. 31 percent said they were likely to leave their current role in direct patient care. McKinsey gathered the top factors influencing the nurses’ decision to leave their jobs.
- 52 percent said they left because they didn’t feel valued by their organization.
- 52 percent said they left because they weren’t getting paid enough.
- 51 percent said they left because they couldn’t balance work and life.
- 46 percent said they left because the workload was too much to handle.
- 43 percent said they found better jobs elsewhere.
Supporting Our Nursing Heroes: Meeting Their Needs
Employers should really pay attention to what nurses want if they want to retain and hire more nurses. In the same McKinsey survey, nurses shared what can convince them to stay at their current employment. Here’s what they said:
- 82 percent said they want their work to matter.
- 69 percent said they need supportive and trustworthy coworkers.
- 63 percent want to be excited about their job.
- 62 percent want a flexible work schedule.
- 62 percent want work-life balance.⁴
Combatting Burnout: Showing Nurses Some Love
Nurses work hard, and they deserve some appreciation from their bosses. Making sure they’re taken care of can help keep them going.
How about creating a chill-out zone where nurses can recharge and de-stress? Facilities can fill it with stuff like soothing sounds, aromatherapy, yoga mats, and good books. Anything to help them shake off the stress of the day.
Boosting Morale with Tech and FaceTime
Healthcare facilities can use tech to shout out to their hardworking health care providers when they do a great job. These tools can include sticky notes, spreadsheets, mining emails, and other materials and technology to ensure they know they’re appreciated.
How about regular meetups for the nursing squad to see how everyone’s doing? It’s a chance to pat each other on the back, see who’s rocking it, and who might need a hand on their shift.
Flex Time: Balancing Work and Life
Nurses these days have to juggle a lot, taking care of tons of patients. But it leaves them with zero time for themselves or their loved ones.
So, why not let nurses have more say in their schedules? And hey, some apps can make scheduling way easier for everyone. Plus, if the schedules aren’t crazy, nurses can actually spend quality time with their patients and give them the care they deserve.
Training Nurses: An Investment in the Future
Maybe it’s time for healthcare places to think about the future. They can train up newly graduated nurses and help them get started in the profession. They can offer online academic degrees to train further, educate, and develop the workforce. These training programs could include professional, technical, and leadership lessons.
Aside from fresh graduates, unemployed and underemployed nurses can also benefit from furthering their education if they want to return to nursing.
Hunting for the Best Nurses Worldwide
In your quest to secure the best talent for healthcare facilities, consider casting a wider net by hiring nurses worldwide. This approach can be a game-changer when facing critical staffing shortages. For instance, a hospital urgently needs experienced essential care nurses, but the local pool is limited.
In partnering with staffing firms specializing in global nurse recruitment like yours, facilities can access a collection of qualified nurses from countries with abundant healthcare expertise.
Help nurses make a difference by hearing their needs out.
While flexible schedules and reasonable job offers can keep nurses around, the nursing field needs even more solutions to fix the nurse shortage. Facilities and staffing firms should join forces to ensure patients get the care they deserve.
Facilities and organizations must be accountable for providing for their nurses’ needs and other healthcare professionals they employ while your staffing firm can help them look for the best candidates to hire.
Related Reading: 5 Lessons Staffing Firms Can Learn from the Writers’ Strike
ATTRACT NURSES FOR YOUR STAFFING FIRM WITH ALLIED INSIGHT
Allied Insight can help your staffing firm reach more nurses and thrive in the face of industry challenges like the recent nurse strikes. We’re a full-stack marketing agency offering tailored services to support staffing firms like yours.
Let’s work together to develop a dynamic marketing strategy that addresses the ongoing staffing crisis and positions your firm as the go-to destination for talented nurses looking for meaningful opportunities. Schedule a conversation with us today, and let’s connect your staffing agency with the top nursing candidates who can make a difference in healthcare.
1 “Nurses in Texas and Kansas Move Forward with Historic Strikes, Resisting Ascension Union-busting Tactics.” National Nurses United, 23 Jun. 2023, www.nationalnursesunited.org/press/nurses-in-texas-and-kansas-move-forward-with-historic-strikes-resisting-ascension-union-busting.
2 “US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ANNOUNCES $80M FUNDING OPPORTUNITY TO HELP TRAIN, EXPAND, DIVERSIFY NURSING WORKFORCE; ADDRESS SHORTAGE OF NURSES.” U.S. Department of Labor, 3 Oct. 2022, www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20221003.
3 Haddad, Lisa M., et al. “Nursing Shortage.” National Library of Medicine, 13 Feb. 2023, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493175/.
4 “Nursing in 2023: How Hospitals Are Confronting Shortages.” McKinsey & Company, 5 May 2023, www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare/our-insights/nursing-in-2023.