The Covid-19 coronavirus has placed a significant strain on all of the healthcare resources of this country. None more than in human resources, particularly nurses and physicians. This article points out that at least half of all states are now facing staff shortages and more than a third of hospitals in these states are “simply running out of staff”.
The demand has been so acute, and the new spread of the virus so extreme that a shortfall of clinicians could become an insurmountable barrier. What seemed to be a, if not the solution, medical nursing, and physician-staffing companies, are having difficulty filling the shortage demands.
It is becoming clear that the way we addressed this pandemics’ human resource shortages were random and not well thought out. It was an example of panic buying. The question becomes, what do we do for the future? We clearly do not wish to repeat the same mistakes. These shortages are contributing to and creating extreme burnout for our healthcare professionals.
Fundamental questions need to be asked such as, what type of health professional do we need for the future? Are we educating and training our healthcare workforce for the future? Unfortunately, we will see more pandemics and probably more frequent pandemics in the future. Do we have the right staffing models for the future? Are we making the best use of technology? Are there Biometric systems that will make the nurses, physicians, or technicians’ jobs safer, more effective, and efficient in the ICU setting? This pandemic has proven that there is a profound domino effect throughout the hospital and health care system and we must use all available technological advancements at our disposal to decrease the need for a constant onsite presence by health care professionals, particularly given the no longer extreme example of ICU nurses caring for three to eight critically ill patients.
These are just a few of the questions we need to be asking as this pandemic continues to present new challenges as we see greater numbers of variants and our healthcare system is asked to meet the challenge.