BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Wednesday marks National Emergency Nurses Day – on this day, we recognize the men and women who are dedicated to caring for our community. But as these nurses are being celebrated, there are still vacancies for their positions in hospitals and facilities statewide.
Princeton Baptist Medical Center is just one of many hospitals looking for more nurses.
As the nationwide nursing shortage continues, Alabama nurses are paid 8% less than the surrounding states. The Alabama State Nurses Association is continuing to fight for better pay to get more nurses in hospitals.
“It’s not for everybody, but it is a calling,” ER nurse Kayla Higgins said.
She is one of the ER nurses at Princeton Baptist Medical Center. Higgins and her colleagues specialize in treating everyone – she said from cradle to grave.
“It’s important to recognize the hard work and dedication it takes to be an ER nurse. It’s not just a career, it’s a calling.”
The nurses at Princeton Baptist have gotten recognition all week long, but this is something the Alabama State Nurses Association wants to push past this day and week.
“They’re at the front, they’re at the beginning of healthcare,” Alabama State Nurses Association President Lindsey Harris said. “They are the entry way to our hospitals. Without them, it makes it very difficult to really function.”
Harris said they’re working with the governor’s staff to try and get CARES Act funds to make nursing wages more competitive.
“Nurses deserve funding,” Harris said. “Those nurses that have been at the bedside or that have been in the hospitals and have remained loyal to their organizations, they definitely deserve a pay increase.”
COVID has made the job even more demanding – making it harder to recruit fresh talent as vacancies pop up.
“They are the true meaning of on the front line,” Harris said.
Higgins said not everyone has that special gift – but those who do stay with their ER team for a long time.
“If anybody out there is looking for a place to call home in the emergency department, this is a great place to be,” Higgins said.
Harris said the association is also partnering with Alabama hospital associations to incentivize all frontline staff. They’re also planning to give out free and discounted tickets to see Nurse Blake who is coming to the Lyric Theater later this month.