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Florida nurses rally, demanding better work conditions on International Nurses Day

Nurses across the country are marching to state capitols asking for better pay, staffing and safety.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It's International Nurses Day.

But some nurses in Florida marched to the State Capitol calling for better work conditions. They said if they don't change, patients' lives are also at stake. 

"The public cried out for our help during COVID and this is us crying out," Emily Bloom of Sarasota said. She's a registered nurse who helped organize the National Nurses March in Florida.  

Nurses across the country called on lawmakers to fight for better wages, a more balanced nurse-to-patient staffing ratio and "justice for violence against healthcare workers." 

Nurses also gathered to honor the lives of health care workers that have been lost, especially during the pandemic. 

Bloom said the current working conditions for nurses are leaving them burned out. On top of mental health struggles, including PTSD, it's causing a staffing shortage and an inability to administer proper care.

"One life lost to something that was preventable is one too many," Bloom said. "This will affect everyone."

The problems nurses said they face existed before the pandemic but COVID-19 exacerbated it. Bloom said while nurses aren't losing hope, they can't fight alone anymore.

"If we don't see changes, I'm worried that nurses are going to continue to leave our profession," said Dr. Rayna Letourneau, USF College of Nursing assistant professor.

Letourneau said on top of improving the work environment, the safety and well-being of nurses are needed to ensure they can provide quality care for patients. Letourneau said she hopes more awareness of nurses' difficulties can lead to long-term change. 

Florida could lose nearly 60,000 nurses by the year 2035, according to a report commissioned by the Florida Hospital Association and Safety Net Hospital Alliance.

"This is only the beginning," Bloom said. "We can't do it alone. We need support and we need them to come stand with us."


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