By Elspeth Mizner
May marks the beginning of National Nurses Month. 31 days to honor and support nurses and the work they do, this comes as the nursing shortage continues to be an issue in our nation and region.
Sallie Piazza, the Chief Nursing Officer at AHN Saint Vincent has cared for hundreds of patients as a nurse and now passes her passion for nursing onto a new generation. “Nursing is such an it’s a very honorable profession, very trusted profession. And when I talk to some of the nursing students that come here to do their clinicals that’s what we talk about. Nursing has to be in your heart. We’ll never be rich, but you’ll be rich in other ways in your life”, said Piazza.
She was on the front lines as the first vaccines arrived for COVID-19 and knows the toll the pandemic took on nurses. “We were ministers. We were caregivers. We were everything to everybody”, said Piazza.
The pandemic was just one factor that led to the current nursing shortage. As Piazza explained, “We are in a really big nursing shortage. We’re already in one, but it is going to get bigger. We have to encourage our young people to go into health care in all areas. We have to start it in the schools at a much younger age to let them know about what the health care field can provide for people.”
Not only is there a shortage in nurses, but in male nurses too. Hunter Olsen is an Assistant Nurse Manager at AHN Saint Vincent and explained, “So there definitely isn’t a ton of nursing that are males, especially on like the med surge areas or the tele-floors. So there was definitely times where I’d be the only male on the floor.”
Olsen has worked his way up from a Nurses Aid to an Assistant Nurse Manager and said more males are needed to help care for patients. “So it is nice to have some some men as much as you can on the floor to help, you know, ambulate patients, get them out of bed. And that’s something we’re definitely pushing for. You know, right now at Saint Vincent’s, try to get people out of bed to improve outcomes, especially in ICU settings as well. ”
Although Piazza has been a nurse for years, she said it never hurts to get some extra appreciation. “When you meet a nurse thank them for the hard work that they do every day. If you’re ever considered health care consider nursing and it is a wonderful profession will give you opportunities that you never dreamed of”, said Piazza.
If you are looking to get into nursing, AHN Saint Vincent does have career and educational opportunities available. They also offer extra stipends if you work weekend or night shifts.