CLEVELAND (WJW) — The COVID-19 pandemic continues to weigh heavily on nurses who remain in high demand amid the nationwide nursing shortage.

Competition for jobs, including the increasing demand for nurses to remain at the bedside of patients, is beginning to create issues for some nursing education programs seeking faculty.

“Right now we’re struggling to get folks,” said Wendy Batch-Wilson, dean of nursing at Cuyahoga Community College. “We need someone to take these groups of students and we’re not able to fill as rapidly as we have been in the past. We’re sort of stretched to the max.”

Batch-Wilson said the issue is happening at the same time enrollment increased during the fall semester.

“We saw about 150 students who entered,” Batch-Wilson said. “In the previous semester, I think there was only about 80 who were ready, but now as we were moving forward looking into the spring deadline… There’s nearly 400 students who have expressed interest.”

Nurses remain in high demand in the Cleveland area with one hospital announcing a plan to transition its nurses currently in non-bedside care roles to patient care because of an “urgent staffing shortage.”

According to Tracey Motter, associate dean of Undergraduate Programs College of Nursing at Kent State University, enrollment remains steady. She said they are focusing on how to best prepare students for the challenging career field made even more complex because of the pandemic.

“It’s difficult out there as a bedside nurse because of the shortage. They’re asked to work more shifts. The more shifts they have the less chance they have to rejuvenate themselves to come back for another day,” Motter said.

“The patients are more heavily dependent, not just for physical care, but emotional care, psychological care,” she said. “They’re missing their family and there’s… Limitations and the nurses have to fill more roles that they hadn’t in the past.”

Despite challenges, Motter said graduating students are able to seek better wages and have more options at the start of their career, including signing bonuses and tuition reimbursement in some cases.