Nursing Shortage: Search for the Literature

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The article shows the problem of nursing shortage not only from the social but also from the economic perspective. It provides statistics to illustrate the point, discusses the reduced new graduates’ interest and suggests the models for education and nursing practice aimed to solve the problem. The information about morbidity, mortality or number of incidents is not presented. The article supports my ideas and even provides an extra one, which can help implement them – the partnerships between educational establishments and hospital systems (Ball, Doyle, & Oocumma, 2014, p. 135).

The work by Buchan & Aiken (2008) gives valuable statistics of the number of nurses in different countries of the world to describe the subject. The authors state that the nursing shortage does not necessarily imply a small number of available nurses but a small number of those who are willing to work as nurses. The article defines the primary causes of the shortages and describes how those should be addressed to improve the situation. Additionally, it says how the policy-makers can and should be involved, which is why it supports my vision of the problem.

Buerhaus, Donelan, Ulrich, Norman, and Dittus (2005) provide valuable statistical data regarding the question of the nursing shortage, which includes such information as gender, race, age, and other personal characteristics of registered nurses. No examples of morbidity or mortality cases are presented. Although the article does not support my solution, as well as does not suggest its own solutions, it has a unique approach to the research and tries to conclude whether the situation has become better or worse.

Butt (2015) examines the problem of the nursing shortage from a perspective of developing countries. Even though they have always faced the chronic shortage of doctors and other medical professionals, the nursing shortage is even more significant because of religion and prejudice based on gender. Additionally, the article provides interesting statistics and data on fertility and mortality rates around the world. Although it is not connected to my solution directly, it gives a fresh look at a problem and still can suggest some tactics to solve it.

The article is based on the research aimed to find out whether the leadership skills of the nursing department head affect professional satisfaction and the awareness of commitment. The nature of the problem is briefly described in the introduction where the authors give, for instance, the statistics of the vacancies in schools and nursing programs (Byrne & Martin, 2014, p. 107). The information about morbidity or mortality rates is not provided. The article supports the solution I have suggested since it establishes a link between leadership and professional satisfaction of nurses, which I have identified as one of the crucial points.

The article by Ea (2008) examines the levels of knowledge and experience of nurses in different countries and discusses their global migration. Although this phenomenon definitely has adverse effects and even contributes to the nursing shortage, it still can be used for the benefit. By encouraging foreigners to work for our health institution, we can close the gap between the number of nurses and the demand for their services. I have not defined that as one of the ways to solve the nursing shortage but it should be added to the list.

Gordon, Aggar, Williams, Walker, Willcock, and Bloomfield (2014) examine one of the most difficult aspects of the shortage issue. They talk about the aging of the nursing workforce and prove the point by referring to the statistics of various health institutions in Australia and throughout the world. What is even worse, not only nurses are aging, the whole population is, so more and more people need the health care nowadays (they authors mention chronic illness and morbidity as the part of the problem). To deal with the nursing shortage, transition programs for new graduates should be provided. That will help nurses to start their future career and possibly even make them stay in the hospital, which has given them this chance.

The possibility of inactive nurses to return to their work is actually rather high (Hammer & Craig, 2008). Examining the issue, the authors of the article both provide the statistics and present the results of their own research. As those results show, due to support from friends and family, high motivation, mentors, and particular refreshing programs, nurses are more likely to return to their work. That is why “keeping track of nurses who become inactive … could be a solution to the nursing shortage in the next decade” (Hammer & Craig, 2008, p. 358). That does not support my solution but can really be a part of it.

The article by Heinen et al. (2013) examines the present-day problem of nursing shortages by describing the things that are already known in that regard and presenting the information obtained through the study in ten different countries. As the results of the research, the authors present several different reasons for nurses to leave their workplace. Among those are the nurse-physician relations, female gender, older age, full-time work, etc. (Heinen et al., 2013, p. 174). By minimizing the risk of those, we can make nurses stay, so this article is useful for the solution I have presented.

One of the significant causes of the shortages is the migration of nurses (Kingma, 2001). Studying this issue, the author gives the statistical data regarding on how often nurses tend to move to another city or a country or even leave their profession at all. Incentives and disincentives in this regard are presented in the tables (Kingma, 2001, p. 209). This article relates to my solution since it can help to raise the nurses’ satisfaction with work and make them stay instead of leaving. The examples of morbidity or mortality cases are not presented in this article.

McLean and Anema (2004) conducted a survey, in which they examined one of the most important causes of the nursing shortage – they studied why nurses left the work and became “inactive” (p. 211). It turns out that one of the often reasons for such an outcome is the unpleasant working environment, which brings too much strain. The results of the study show that many nurses are willing to return to work if only they are provided with more flexible hours, for example. I am sure it can contribute to the solution I have suggested since it will definitely increase the professional satisfaction.

Nardi and Gyurko (2013) review the problem from the perspective of the global migration of nurses and a “persistent devaluation” of the present-day education (p. 317). The source provides a brief information about the problem of the shortage but does not give a lot of statistical data. As one of the conclusions, the authors suggest to change particular educational models and use the same databases in different organizations to make the collaboration between them simpler. The same tactic can be used to make the transitions of nurses easier and the workload more balanced, which, in its turn, will increase the professional satisfaction of new nurses.

The research conducted by Rebekah and Abrahamson (2009) has concluded that the nursing shortage is a global problem and “a simple increase in the number of available nurses is unlikely to solve” it (p. 235). So it should be addressed at every level, and the government interventions are essential in this case. I agree with that opinion. To make every other measure efficient, we should win the support of the government. Otherwise, the lack of money and resources are ensured. The article provides really valuable information on the subject including quantitative data.

The article examines variables, which affect the nurses’ desire and decision to continue working as nurses, change the place of work or leave the profession at all. This issue is important since many talented nurses give up on their profession without even getting started. Among those variables, Shacklock and Brunetto (2011) define the family-work relations, the importance of work, interpersonal relationships, and others. It is useful in terms of the decision I have suggested since the understanding of those principles helps to retain nurses in the health institutions. The article also provides the statistics regarding the number of nurses who actually work as nurses.

Considering the problem of the nursing shortage, the most important goal for every nursing leader is to retain the employees they have. For this purpose, Yurumezoglu and Kocaman (2012) decided to conduct a survey and measure the variables, which are the most influential in this regard: professional satisfaction, the awareness of commitment, and the readiness to leave (p. 221). There are not a lot of statistical data in the article, and it is qualitative, which is why it is even more sufficient for the solution I have offered – it gives detailed information regarding how nurses can be retained.


Ball, K., Doyle, D., & Oocumma, N. I. (2015). Nursing Shortages in the OR: Solutions for New Models of Education. AORN Journal, 101(1), 115-136.

Buchan, J., & Aiken, L. (2008). Solving nursing shortages: a common priority. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17, 3262–3268.

Buerhaus, P. I., Donelan, K., Ulrich, B. T., Norman, L., & Dittus, R. (2005). Is the Shortage of Hospital Registered Nurses Getting Better Or Worse? Findings from Two Recent National Surveys of RNs. Nursing Economics, 23(2), 61-96.

Butt, M. (2015).Training community based nurses in impoverished areas of developing countries: A practical solution to a rapidly emerging global shortage of health workers force. Middle East Journal of Nursing, 9(2), 31-35.

Byrne, D. M., & Martin, B. N. (2014). A Solution to the Shortage of Nursing Faculty: Awareness and Understanding of the Leadership Style of the Nursing Department Head. Nurse Educator, 39(3), 107-112.

Ea, E. E. (2008). Facilitating acculturation of foreign-educated nurses. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 13(1).

Gordon, C. J., Aggar, C., Williams, A. M., Walker, L., Willcock, S. M., & Bloomfield, J. (2014). A transition program to primary health care for new graduate nurses: a strategy towards building a sustainable primary health care nurse workforce? BMC Nursing, 13(34), 1-13.

Hammer, V. R., & Craig, G. P. (2008). The Experiences of Inactive Nurses Returned to Nursing After Completing a Refresher Course. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 39(8), 358-367.

Heinen, M. M., Achterber, T., Schwendimann, R., Zander, B., Matthews, A., Ensio, A.,…Schoonhoven, L. (2013). Nurses’ intention to leave their profession: A cross sectional observational study in 10 European countries. International Journal of Nursing Studies 50, 174–184.

Kingma, M. (2001). Nursing migration: global treasure hunt or disaster-in-the-making? Nursing Inquiry, 8(4), 205–212.

McLean, T., & Anema, M. (2004). Reduce the Nursing Shortage: Help Inactive Nurses Return to Work. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 35(5), 211-215.

Nardi, D. A., & Gyurko, C. C. (2013). The Global Nursing Faculty Shortage: Status and Solutions for Change. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 45(3), 317–326.

Rebekah L. F., & Abrahamson, K. (2009). A Critical Examination of the U.S. Nursing Shortage: Contributing Factors, Public Policy Implications. Nursing Forum 44(4), 235-244.

Shacklock, K., & Brunetto, Y. (2011). The intention to continue nursing: work variables affecting three nurse generations in Australia. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 68(1), 36–46.

Yurumezoglu, H. A., & Kocaman, G. (2012). Pilot study for evidence-based nursing management: Improving the levels of job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and intent to leave among nurses in Turkey. Nursing and Health Sciences, 14, 221–228.

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NursingBird. "Nursing Shortage: Search for the Literature." April 14, 2022.