Hundreds of 1199SEIU Registered Nurses gathered at the state capital in Albany, New York this week to warn elected officials about the crisis faced as the nationwide nursing shortage widens. New York State is ranked as having the third worst RN shortage after Florida and California.

1199SEIU members are always concerned that patient care and safety could be compromised when there is insufficient staffing of RNs and other direct care staff. As frontline healthcare workers, they know that it becomes a vicious cycle when high burnout results in frequent turnover, exacerbating the short-staffing situation.

To address the immediate need, the nurses urged safe staffing levels that promote a team approach and asked NYS legislators for a commitment to support Registered Nurses and other caregivers to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

Norma Amsterdam, 1199SEIU Executive Director of the RN division explained that, “a typical healthcare team might consist of a doctor, a Registered Nurse, a Licensed Practical Nurse, a Certified Nursing Assistant, or a Patient Care Technician. Also, Health Unit Coordinators and other clerical staff on the units are a critical part of the team ensuring that nurses are not drawn away from the bedside for tasks, such as answering the telephone, that can be done by other members of the team. The support staff reduces the stress and demands on the team nurse, increasing the time they get to spend doing nursing care and allowing them to perform to the top of their license,” she said.