LITTLE ROCK, Ark – It’s a constant issue at hospitals across the country and has only grown since the start of the pandemic, the need for registered nurses (RN). As one Arkansas hospital looks for ways to attract more hires, the nurses have been taking on more shifts to help. 

The shortage of RN’S at the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS)  is in the hundreds. One of their RNs says the only way she and her coworkers are getting through the long days are by leaning on each other. 

For UAMS registered nurse Mary Davidson working overtime is nothing new. 

“I get here a little before 6 a.m. and I will stay here at least until 7 p.m. although some days I’m here until 9 p.m. or 10  p.m,” said Davidson

The long shifts are a result of the hospitals’ nursing shortage

“We have a lot of turnover on our floor.” Davidson goes on to say, “it seems like I spend most of my life here at work.”

UAMS Chief Nursing Officer, Trenda Ray says since covid the demand for nurses has only grown

“What we’ve really seen with the pandemic is that need and that gap widened and it’s been prolonged for sure,” said Ray. 

 Ray says the options for registered nurses have expanded.

“They may have moved into telehealth, school health, care management, they may have gone to the clinic,” said Ray. 

This is helping make UAMS RN vacancies in the hundreds.  

“We currently have right over 200 vacancies and that’s across UAMS health.”

Davidson says the one upside to working a lot is the bonds she creates with her co-workers. 

“[Co-workers] These people have become my family, my friends and people I will see outside of here if I’m ever out of here,” said Davidson.  

Ray hopes to hire more nurses by working on things internally. 

“We are very focused on team wellness and nursing wellness here and we are continuing to look for ways to make sure they are supported,” said Ray.

As for Davidson, she says despite the challenges she is staying right where she belongs. 

“I stayed in nursing because that’s what I do. I take care of people and absolutely love that, I feel like I make a difference,” said Davidson. 

Baptist Health says they have 685 nursing vacancies and we are waiting to hear back for Children’s Hospital.