Shortage of nurses will only worsen amid high labor demand, says CEO of Texas Nurses Association

Rise in COVID-19 cases contributing to higher demand of nurses

SAN ANTONIO – On the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, nurses are burned out as they gear up for another spike in COVID-19 cases, which many medical experts say could have been prevented if more people had gotten vaccinated.

The national and statewide shortages of nurses trending up before the pandemic will only worsen given the demand put on them last year, said Cindy Zolnierek, CEO of the Texas Nurses Association.

“This wave is every bit as intense, if not more intense, than the previous waves of COVID-19 with very, very sick patients,” Zolnierek said. “This Delta variant is just hitting us very hard and very quickly. I think the acceleration is happening faster than it did previously.”

Nurses are exhausted after all they’ve been put through, and they’re stepping away from their jobs, Zolnierek said. The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies showed that in 2019, Texas was 27,000 nurses short and projected it would be 57,000 short by 2032.

That number has only gotten worse during the shortage, Zolnierek said. She says new graduates are also not getting the work experience they need to be hired.

The good news is people are still interested in the nursing field, but the shortage of instructors isn’t doing much to help the cause.

“What I’ve heard, and what I hear from schools of nursing, is they have actually seen an increase in applicants, that people are interested. They want to help. They see this happening with COVID-19, and they want to step up,” Zolnierek said.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.