Hospitals in rural communities are struggling due to widespread nursing shortages. Staffing issues have resulted in compromised healthcare services in many rural communities with over a quarter of rural hospitals no longer offering critical services and over half of rural hospitals drastically reducing the number of patients they admit.

During the last decade for example, nearly 200 rural hospitals stopped providing obstetrics.  For many, this means that they either must travel outside of their communities for adequate healthcare or go without treatment completely if traveling the distance is not a viable option.

The nursing shortage can be attributed to several factors. Most rural hospital nurses reported leaving for more lucrative job opportunities elsewhere. For others, the stress of having to work longer, busier shifts due to staff shortages further perpetuated the cycle by causing overworked nurses to resign.

Just under half of rural hospitals are currently operating with a negative margin. And, while pandemic relief funding assisted many rural hospitals in staying afloat financially, the nursing shortage has only been exacerbated by pandemic-related burnout. As COVID-19 continues to overwhelm rural hospitals, effective solutions to the nursing shortage are necessary to provide adequate care to these communities.

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