Exhausted and short-staffed: Florida nurses demanding change and help from state leaders

Thousands of nurses marched across the county on Wednesday, including in Florida, to voice their concerns about the nursing shortage happening in their home state and nationwide. Advocates demanded better pay and better support.

"Nurses need to be heard. We’re really what stands between the patient and their outcome," said Parker Minshew, a registered nurse from Ocala, Florida. She is an ICU trauma nurse and said the industry was already short nurses and that the ongoing pandemic worsened the situation.

"It’s hardcore right now. We have a lot of travelers. We can’t retain staff because the pay is inadequate," she said, forcing those still working to carry the extra load and sometimes taking on two or three patients at a time. 

"We’re literally trying to keep somebody alive this entire time, so not only is it physically exhausting because most of the time we’re on our feet a lot of the time, but it’s also mentally exhausting," Minshew said

The staffing situation is expected to get worse, according to the Florida Hospital Association. Projections show the state faces a shortfall of nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035 – 13 years away.

Emily Bloom, who works with Florida Nurse Coalition and organized the march, said she wants legislators to enact change, including mandating staffing ratios, ending workplace violence, and fair compensation, to address the shortage.

Emily Bloom, with the Florida Nurse Coalition, organized the March in Florida. She said to prevent the shortfall, advocates are calling on states legislators to enact change, including safe staffing ratios, an end to workplace violence, and fair compensation.

"When you look at nurses these days, you’re saying that they’re understaffed, they’re abused on a regular basis and they’re struggling to care for their families financially," she said.

Nurses also held a rally in the state's capitol on Thursday.