MOLINE, Illinois — For sisters Hannah Hosty and Mackenzie Zions, appreciation is something they hear often, but not something they always feel.
"We're seeing a lot of nurses retiring and leaving the bedside," Hosty told News 8. "So, the newer generation is taking over and getting a little bit of a heavier workload than before."
Hosty is a labor and delivery registered nurse at University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago. She's been a nurse for more than seven years, ever since she graduated from St. Ambrose University's nursing program in 2015.
"I find more now than when I first started my career that nurses are starting to become more undervalued," Hosty said.
It's a sentiment felt by more than 62% of RNs across all specialties who say they've experienced an increased workload since 2020, according to a report released last month by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
The NCSBN is the organization that grants nursing licenses in the U.S.
But even more eye-opening is that more than half of all nurses reported feeling, "emotionally drained, used up, fatigued and burned out at least a few times a week, if not every day."
These working conditions have led to a mass exodus of nurses quitting the profession, with the report citing burnout as the top reason 800,000 RNs and 160,000 LPNs/LVNs say they're planning to quit entirely by 2027.
"Increased workloads, stress and burnout have significantly strained the current U.S. nursing workforce, and the pandemic has disrupted traditional educational models," NSCBN Director of Research Dr. Brendan Martin said at a press conference last month.
"I just think that sometimes we're more so looked at as a number than the job we do behind the scenes," Hosty said. "We don't just run in and out of a room. We spend a lot of time with our patients, getting to know them and building our relationship with them."
And relationship building is something her own sister learned to do as a St. Ambrose nursing student, especially after the pandemic.
"I think the program here at St. Ambrose guided me to handle situations like burnout," Zions said, the day before her graduation. She's not scared of the future, even knowing the working conditions many nurses across the country face.
"I kind of started this program [during COVID-19's peak]," Zions said. "As soon as the pandemic started, I was applying for certified nursing assistant jobs."
Zions says she got used to working in a hospital during the pandemic, admitting it took some time to get used to, but now isn't something that she flinches at.
"[Working during the pandemic] was a little scary because every day I'd have to, from the first day of work, come and get my temperature scan [and] put the N95 mask on," Zions said. "So, yes, [it's] scary, but also I feel like I'm used to it."
But to help soothe her anxiety even more when she starts working as an RN later this year, she says she has a card up her sleeve.
"It's the fact that I can actually work with my sister, side-by-side, that's really unique," Zions said. "I think a lot of people don't have that opportunity to work with their siblings, and I get along with mine. So, well, I'm really excited for that part of it."
Zions graduated on Saturday with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Once she passes the NCLEX, she says she plans to work alongside her sister as a labor and delivery nurse at University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago, later this summer.