TULSA, Okla. — Even before hospitals were inundated with COVID-19 patients, they were dealing with a shortage of nurses, and the situation has not improved during the pandemic.
Senator Inhofe is requesting federal funding to help with the shortage.
TCC administrators said the nursing shortage started well before the pandemic, but the demand increased due to COVID-19.
San Vandeventer is one of nearly 400 students enrolled in TCC's nursing program.
He is a fourth-semester student set to graduate in December.
“It’s been very rigorous especially with COVID, we officially got hit during spring break my first semester,” Vandeventer said.
He did his clinical with St. Francis Children's hospital, where he said he's seen firsthand the need for more nurses.
He said some have retired, but many left the field due to COVID-19 burnout, causing a major strain on the healthcare system.
“We had a mass exodus of nurses for a while just because it was a huge strain on the individual, so we ended up with a shortage of personnel during the COVID pandemic,” Vandeventer said.
TCC's Nursing Program Director, Lisa Gerow, is well aware of the shortage and said nurses play a critical role in the health industry, especially during a health crisis.
“The nurse manages the overall care of the patient and sees the patient all the time and interacts with the patient and sees the patient and sees the patient all the time and interacts with the patient, and has communication with the patient,...so it’s a very important role,” Gerow said.
TCC has been sending nurses into the workforce since 1971. She said their goal is to expand the program to meet the growing demand.
“There’s a huge nursing shortage, every single one of our students will be able to be employed right away, and there’s still a huge shortage,” Gerow said.
Senator Inhofe announced Friday he requested $866,000 in federal funding to allocate to TCC's nursing program.
Gerow said they are hoping to use the money to buy more equipment, upgrade their lab, and expand student capacity.
“Having the opportunity to accept more students because we have the applicants already will really benefit the hospitals in the long run, being able to put out more students, she said about 50 each year, once they implement all of the changes," Vandeventer said. "The more nurses you have in the workforce, the less burnout you’re going to have, the fewer nurses are leaving the hospitals because they feel overworked and so it really will benefit the hospitals.”
Senator Inhofe said the money still needs to be approved by Congress, but is confident it will happen. He expects the money to make it to TCC by the end of this year or early next year.
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