LOS ANGELES — A few months into her retirement, Amelita Cabatic already misses her care team and patients at Cedars-Sinai.
“With these hands I’ve touched a lot of lives,” she said.
Cabatic is now using her hands in other ways, such as caring for her garden and focusing on self-care. But she’s already planning on how she can return to nursing by helping to train a new generation of nurses.
“A lot of education needs to be done. I think the young nurses need the brains of the pioneers in the profession,” Cabatic said.
And now is a critical time for the industry, which faces a large shortage of resident nurses with many approaching retirement like Cabatic in the next few years. According to the University of California, San Francisco, more than 40,000 nurses are needed to fill a 13% gap that is projected to persist in the field until 2026.
“This pandemic has put a lot of pressure, not only on nurses but everyone,” Cabatic said.
Current nurses like Anita Girard, chief nursing officer at Cedars-Sinai, worry about the shortage. The volume of patients at the hospital remains high due to issues people put off during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The wisdom walking out the door, that’s really a concern for nursing. Some incredible legacy, incredible care they’re given their patients,” she said.
Girard hopes the points of entry for nursing are expanded so more people can be trained and onboarded. The most fulfilling part of her job that she hopes inspires young people to go into nursing is getting to be right alongside patients as they triumphantly leave the hospital surviving COVID-19 or other health battles, she explained.
“I’ve been a nurse over 30 years and it’s truly the most beautiful profession on the planet,” said Girard.
Cabatic noted that she feels the same way and has had the honor of both serving as a nurse and being cared for by nurses when she fought and survived COVID-19 earlier this year. She hopes as more of her colleagues prepare to retire, a new class of nurses is eager to fill their shoes and touch people’s lives the way Cabatic has.
"After all what you’ve done and looking back, if I leave this earth I did my part."