Nurses push for a STEM designation amid shortages

FILE-Emergency room nurses speak to each other at the Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Nurses are calling for a STEM designation as the medical profession grapples with nursing staffing shortages. 

The designation would help grow the field as more nurses leave their jobs while opening up millions of dollars in federal funding for recruitment programs and creating more opportunities for international students, Axios reported. 

Given that nurses take courses in math and science, some have argued it doesn’t meet the criteria to be deemed a STEM field, which is science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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One group pushing for the STEM classification is Nursing is STEM, a coalition of nurses. They recently submitted a petition requesting the Department of Homeland Security to include nursing in its update to STEM degrees. 

Nurses contend that their profession meets DHS requirements, given the amount of math and science applied in the field’s routine duties.

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The DHS keeps an annually updated list of STEM degrees, which includes research, innovation, or development of new technologies through engineering, math, or science, per the agency’s 2023 update. 

Nursing shortages are an ongoing issue detailed in a recent report from Incredible Health, a healthcare career marketplace company. 

The group surveyed more than 3,300 registered nurses in the U.S. in February with respondents saying one of their biggest concerns being staffing shortages. 

Approximately 63% of nurses polled reported being assigned to take care of too many patients at a time, with 23% of respondents noting that the scarcity of staffing has required them to perform duties outside of their daily responsibilities. 

And a staggering 88% of nurses polled said staffing shortages have a "detrimental impact on patient care." 

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.