Rep. Welch addresses nursing shortage in Vermont

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Recruiting and retaining nurses continues to be an issue throughout Vermont. Wednesday afternoon, Congressman Peter Welch sat down with nurses from around the state to discuss the challenges they face.

Nurses say it’s hard to get professionals to the state for a number of reasons, such as the high costs of housing and childcare.They also mentioned the issue of trailing spouse where a husband or wife follows their partner to Vermont for a job, and then can’t find work themselves.

Participants at the table also spoke of the high cost of tuition for nursing students and Congressman Welch said he’s sponsored legislation around tuition loan forgiveness. But as a result of these challenges, nurses say they’re burned out from working so much overtime.

“We need to work together to make Vermont more attractive for healthcare workers,” said Deb Snell, president of ATF. “Whether it is looking at tuition loan forgiveness at some level, just making this a place people want to come and stay and can afford to stay.”

“We’ve got an immediate and urgent challenge here,” said Rep. Peter Welch. “We need them, 3-5,000 nurses. Just the practical challenge of staffing our hospital floors is urgent.”

This workforce shortage exists across all healthcare professions. Welch said it’s happening beyond Vermont, in many other parts of rural America.

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