Local healthcare workers discuss how nursing in Missouri compares to other states

Missouri ranked 8th best state for nurses in 2021 study
Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 9:42 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A 2021 study ranks Missouri as the eighth best state for nurses.

KY3 spoke with local healthcare workers about those findings and what it will take to keep that spot this year. Springfield nurses say this study could help attract and recruit nurses to the state, but they also say the state could improve in a few areas, particularly workplace safety.

The 2021 WalletHub study considered multiple factors, including opportunity and competition.

”This gives a very different picture when it says your work environment is good, your compensation and your overall work opportunities are high,” said Mercy Director of Professional Practice Jessica Atchison. “I think that gives us a whole different ballgame of recruitment strategies.”

Nurses in Springfield say the state’s lower cost of living is a huge draw. The report shows Missouri nurses have the fourth-highest annual nursing salary, adjusted for the cost of living.

”I think it is definitely something where Missouri stands apart from other places,” said Jon Spire, the Nursing Manager of Mercy Emergency Trauma Center

Jon Spire has worked as a nurse at Mercy for three years now. He previously worked in Arkansas.

”One of my favorite parts of being a nurse is being able to meet people on some of the worst days of their life and one, help them work through those issues,” he said. “And two, hopefully be a little bit of a shining light in a dark time and help them get to the other side, whatever that goal is and help them get better.”

Spire said he also feels Missouri has a positive Midwest culture.

“That’s definitely something that you feel in our medical environments when you step into our hospitals,” he said. “Missouri being the “show me state,” definitely step into our hospitals, we’ll show you what our culture is. We’ll show you what kind of family environment we have here.”

Recruitment is still a challenge in Missouri and across the nation. Nurses say the COVID-19 pandemic did not help.

”Really the need for nurses has outweighed the volume of nurses coming out of nursing school,” Atchison said.

Local nurses say this study may help, but they also say a few areas need some work.

“One thing I would like to see for the state of Missouri is the ability for the hospital to be able to press charges on behalf of our co-workers, to assist them in making sure that we have appropriate prosecution of the individuals for the acts of violence that they choose to do to our co-workers,” Spire said. “This is one of the only professions that I know of where it’s deemed or viewed publicly as okay or as part of the job. And I think that’s something that we need to work on changing.”

Right now in Missouri, an individual healthcare worker has to file charges. Hospitals said that poses some safety issues for those employees, including making that person’s name and address public.

The WalletHub survey ranked Missouri as the eighth overall best state for nurses to work in, and the state was ranked eighth in the category of “opportunity and competition.” However, Missouri was ranked the 17th best state in the category of “workplace environment.”

”While some organizations are really standing behind and pushing that workplace safety, that’s not everywhere,” Atchison said. “And it’s not every organization. I think as a state, we have a huge opportunity to do that.”

Healthcare workers also say this does not just pertain to nurses who work in hospitals.

“[But] also your skilled facilities, your long-term care, your nursing homes,” Atchison described. “I think we have a lot of opportunity as a state to work on that environment and that side of healthcare fields.”

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