The Standard (St. Catharines)

A student’s perspectiv­e: Filling in the gap

- By Anica Shum, BSCN

We are all aware that nurses face immense pressure and commonly suffer from burnout. We have heard such warnings even louder as nurses continue to bear the brunt on the frontlines during this pandemic. As a nursing student, I have long heard cautions of older nurses retiring at an alarming rate. I always thought that I, along with my fellow nursing graduates, would be sufficient to maintain the workforce even with nurses retiring.

On March 31, 2021, the Registered Nurses Associatio­n of Ontario released results from a survey conducted in January to February of 2021 that gathered responses from more than 2,100 registered nurses, nurse practition­ers and nursing students in Ontario. Most alarmingly, results revealed that at least 13% of RNS aged 26-35 said they are likely to leave the profession after the pandemic. The conversati­on that had long surrounded older nurses nearing retirement has shifted to young, likely new graduates and entry-level nurses leaving our workforce permanentl­y. It is no secret that nurses face burnout, emotional turmoil, and vicarious trauma because of their work. But it is now clear that the pandemic and its tag-along issues have amplified attrition amongst nurses.

How does this make me feel as a soon-to-be graduate about to enter the workforce? I feel an immense pressure to perform, to make up for lost resources. I am worried that online learning ill-prepares future graduates unlike the healthcare system has seen before. But above all, I can’t help but wonder if this is the fate for myself and those graduating in the class of 2021 into such an environmen­t. I look to my right and left, to my friends and classmates, wondering how many of us will remain registered nurses in the next 3, 5 or 10 years. Will our passion for nursing carry us through impending hardship?

I can only answer this question partially and prematurel­y: I do and always will care for others.

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