Industries across the board are being slammed by labor shortages in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but healthcare facilities across the country are facing a more long-term problem: a nursing shortage.

As of 2018, the most recent year for which statewide data is available, North Carolina employed 120,600 nurses to serve its 10.48 million residents, according to a study by NurseJournal. That breaks down to about 11.5 nurses per 1,000 residents — just below the national average of 11.7.

As of May 2020, 980 registered nurses worked in the Burlington metro area, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For a population of 171,415 people, that’s about 5.7 nurses per 1,000 residents. 

Contributing factors

Healthcare facilities in the area say this is not enough.

“The nursing shortages … is a cyclical thing and it comes and goes,” said Kenneth Rempher, the chief nurse executive at Alamance Regional Medical Center, said. “We’re at a very critical point at this time and I think it’s only been exacerbated by the conditions surrounding the pandemic.”