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Two Nurses Discuss The Pandemic And The Nursing Shortage

Chloe Frye (l) and Marissa Lee. Photo: Matthew Peddie / WMFE
Chloe Frye (l) and Marissa Lee. Photo: Matthew Peddie / WMFE

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on frontline health care workers, and made a nationwide nursing shortage worse.  

Two nurses, one with many years of experience, and the other a recent graduate, joined Intersection to discuss how they've adapted to the pandemic and what the profession looks like now.  

Marissa Lee, a registered nurse at the Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee with 36 years of experience, says she had considered retiring before the pandemic, but she stayed for the sake of her co-workers. 

“I'm still hanging in there because I have a dedication to my co-workers. And I have a love for my job. And I have a love for my patients. So I'm gonna be there.”

“It's desperate times,” Lee says of the staff shortage. 

She says she is spending less time with the patients, which she says does not fit with her oath to do no harm. 

“The problem I see is that they put profit over patients. In nursing, we as nurses, we put patients over profit. We’re going to do whatever we need to do to provide the care for those patients and make them feel human, not that they’re just a number.”

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Marissa Lee. Photo: Danielle Prieur, WMFE[/caption]

Lee and other nurses at the Osceola Regional Medical Center rallied to bring attention to the staffing issue earlier this week. She is worried that COVID cases could surge again, putting more pressure on front line medical staff. 

“I don't think it's gonna get better. We just need to be smarter about it,” Lee says. 

Chloe Frye, a recent graduate from the UCF College of Nursing, is entering the nursing world at a unique time. She says that while she has heard about the hard times the field has faced, she is still hopeful for the future. 

“I hope that at some point, we do kind of reach a resolution. And we are the people that are on the front line that are caring for these patients. And without us, they're not gonna get better. There's not many people that have the courage, the care, the ability to care and do what we do. And we have to take care of ourselves to be able to take care of others.”

The last year of Frye's training was mostly conducted in a remote setting after the pandemic hit, and she says it was challenging because of the hands-on nature of nursing. But that did not stop her from finishing her degree and continuing her journey. 

“I think that when the pandemic hit, it kind of made me realize that I was 100% headed in the right direction that I wanted to be and I wanted to keep going towards that. Because just seeing so many people in need, and there not being enough people to fulfill the demand of health care, it just kind of proved that we need those people. And we need to keep producing nurses and doctors and everybody in the healthcare profession is so important. And we're just running so low on them.”

Frye says she is motivated by compassion for her patients. She says that nurses are the patients' biggest advocates. 

“Because at the end of the day, I think a lot of us, we don't do it for the money, we don't do it for the praise, we do it because we genuinely care about others. And we want to be there for them in their worst moments, their best moments, whatever moment they're having, they need that support, because not everyone has family or someone that cares for them. And sometimes they're there all alone, and you have to be there for them. So at the end of the day, we may be a nurse, but we're always a person.”