IN-DEPTH: US nursing shortage hurting Rural Texas

Posted at 2:52 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 16:09:23-04

HAMILTON, Texas — The Great Resignation can be felt across many industries. Right now the medical industry is feeling the brunt.

"I think there are dollar signs for nurses to chase," said Angela Newton Asst. Director of Nursing at Hamilton General Hospital.

Healthcare workers feel burnout
Many healthcare workers feel burnout after the pandemic. While some leave jobs for money, some leave the profession.

Rural hospitals are feeling the Brunt of those leaving their jobs. Now competing with Hospitals like Baylor Scott &White offering a $15,000 sign-on bonus to work as a nurse.

"I am worried about the future, I'm worried about there being enough equipment and enough staff," said Newton.

Hamilton Hospital
Hamilton Hospital is in need of 15 nurses and other support staff.

At the Hamilton hospital, nurses work at least 84 hours every two weeks. Many of the nurses are working overtime to help with the void.

While it's difficult to compete with sign-on bonuses from bigger hospitals, the hospital prides its self on being a hometown medical provider.

"It's just one of those things that we don’t know what the next day is going to be when it comes to people getting sick," said Hamilton General Hospital HR director Kyle Morgan.

What are the needs? Open jobs at Hamilton General Hospital

Many times when you think of a hospital you think of nurses and doctors. The hospital support staff is also suffering.

One of the jobs on the list is a cook.

"They're the ones that provide lunch, not just for the staff but the patients," said Morgan.

Rural Texas hospitals feel the brunt of people leaving jobs
Some Healthcare workers in Rural Texas have left the profession to take other jobs, some on ranches.

Other jobs like Optometry Assistant, Paramedic, and Admissions Clerk are all jobs they are looking to fill.

What age group is quitting jobs?

Those between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates. According to Harvard Business Review, that's increased more than 20% between 2020 and 2021.

The study from Harvard shows that there has been less turnover for those 20 to 25 years old.

The average salary for a registered nurse in Texas is $76,800, according to Department of Labor data.

Rural Texas
Many people traveling through Rural spots will find themselves without a hospital.

Many nurses are moving to travel jobs where it pays more.

Burnout is a factor

The last 18 months have been difficult for many healthcare workers across the country. Many Texas healthcare professionals admit the 4th surge of COVID-19 almost did them in.

Rural Healthcare Crisis
Many people who live in Rural areas have been experiencing a healthcare crisis. Many rural areas have seen there hospitals close.

JoyceSarah McCabe works for Goodall-Witcher Hospital in Clifton. In a recent interview, she spoke about how at the start of the pandemic healthcare workers were heroes. Now many are being harassed and called names.

You stop at a grocery store on your way home and hear someone accuse you of fear mongering.
JoyceSarah McCabe, Goodall-Witcher Hospital

Because of the long hours, some harassment, and seeing so much death during a pandemic healthcare professionals leave the profession.

"Politics has made things difficult," said McCabe.

What's next?

Many hospitals that we spoke to say they are looking for unique ways to keep staff.

In many of the rural areas, the CEO is wearing many different hats.

Adam Willmann CEO at Goodall-Witcher Hospital has now deemed himself as "Chief Entertainer."

"Kind of pep them up, give them hope, there is an end at this tunnel," said Willmann.

The light that many healthcare professionals continue to look for.