Addressing the Nation’s Shortage of Nurses

The quality of health care services is a very important issue in the world nowadays. Today the health care industry is experiencing a significant shortage of registered nurses. This means that not as many people choose this profession and work in this career. Unfortunately, such shortages are not very easy to measure or predict, although the forecast would be very useful for the future of the industry and the policies applied within the sphere of health care.

At the same time, the shortage of registered nurses develops and occurs in cycles. This is why the experts have more or less precise data about the possible shortages for the future. In several years such shortage is predicted. That happening will overlap with the population’s increasing need for nurses due to the natural aging of the baby boom generation (Keenan 2003).

This information makes the health care professionals worried about the near future, as the projected problems may start in 2020. This is why the industry and its stakeholders need to work on policies to resolve the approaching conflict situation and address the upcoming shortage of registered nurses. Otherwise, this phenomenon may create serious issues and reduce the level of public health and the quality of health care services in the future.

The number of registered nurses in the United States today is quite large. The population of nurses has increased immensely over the last century. In 1900 the number of people working as nurses in the United States was approximately twelve thousand, these days it grew to a mere three million nurses (Whelan 2014).

It is possible that the problem with the shortage is caused by too much demand, but not too little supply. The modern health care system is very complicated and it requires the efforts of a big number of nurses to maintain it. This means that with the development of the technologies and the health care industry the demand for nurses is not likely to become smaller. Earlier the shortage of nurses was solved using raising salaries for this kind of workers.

One of the contemporary ways to address this issue is adding new people to the profession using widening recruitment. One of the challenges that the health care system is facing today is the length of the period it takes the future nurses to obtain all the needed knowledge and receive the qualification allowing them to start practicing. This is why the United States has started multiple short programs in schools of nurses. There are a large number of community colleges that admit students for a two-year program. At least fifty percent of the nurses that are actively practicing today are graduates of such programs.

At the same time, the latest research are showing that the hospitals that have more nurses that graduated from colleges that offer baccalaureate programs have better results. For example, patient outcomes are much more positive in hospitals with nurses of better qualification. This is why today there are serious doubts about the wisdom of the solution of starting short-term educational and training programs for nurses, as it does not seem to improve public health.

This takes the experts back to the other option, which is the economical approach towards the existing issue. The profession of a nurse is very complicated and filled with stress and hard work. Nurses often have to work long shifts. This profession includes a lot of responsibilities and requires that registered nurses are always prepared to face challenges. This is why offering better rewards to the professionals of this sphere is still a great solution that will make a big difference and help to address the problems with the shortage of nurses today.

Among the most serious nurses shortage causes these days there are such issues as the lack of schools that prepare qualified professionals, the senior age of the major part of the currently working nurses, a demographic change that makes the medical care industry need more nurses, the growing level of stress for nurses at work caused by insufficient staffing and, finally, high nurse turnover in the health care industry (Nursing Shortage 2014).

All of these factors affect the employees and, of course, the patients. The level of patient care is much worse in hospitals with insufficient staffing and a lack of nurses.

The barriers that need to be broken to reduce the nurse shortage are inadequate career support, poor incentive structures, and inefficient workplace planning (Buchan, Aiken 2010). All of these problems significantly influence people’s desire to engage in the profession. And insufficient staffing in the hospitals causes an overload for the nurses that currently practice.

To address these issues the stakeholders need to co-operate with the Department of Labor and work out the best strategies and policies addressing the problems nurses experience at the workplace and to create various benefits that would attract more people into the profession, for example, advancing education for nurses in exchange for a work commitment. Besides, the stakeholders could promote the career using the social advertisement.

This is a good way to create more interest in the profession and polish its image. The development of career-promoting events, brochures, and websites would help to inform more people about the benefits of becoming a nurse.

In conclusion, the problem of shortage of registered nurses is known all over the world and many countries contribute to solving it. Several American organizations are currently actively addressing this problem. The Department of Labor in the United States awarded grant funding for the profession. A well-known company called Johnson & Johnson is investing great costs into social advertisements for the profession. Finally, in 2009 forty seven American states gathered in Baltimore for a summit that was scheduled especially to work out strategies of addressing the nurse shortage in the country.

Reference List

Buchan, J., Aiken, L. (2010). Solving Nursing Shortages: A Coming Priority. Journal of Clinical Nursing 17(24), 3262-3268.

Keenan, P. (2003). The Nursing Workforce Shortage: Causes, Consequences, Proposed Solutions. Issue Brief 916, 1-8.

Nursing Shortage (2014). AACN. Web.

Whelan, J. (2014). “Where Did All the Nurses Go?”: Mid-Twentieth Century Nurse Shortages, Causes, Solutions, and Continuing Problems. Web.

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