Friday, February 6, 2015

The Nursing Shortage

The shortage of registered nurses has been predicted and studied for more than a decade, when the health care industry began preparing for the impact of an aging baby-boomer population. There are several factors that have contributed to the shortage of nurses and many steps being taken to correct it.

The nursing shortage is a result of not only the aging workforce, but also a main contributor was the Affordable Care Act in 2010 that brought millions of Americans into the health insurance system, increasing demand for nurses. Another major reason for the shortage is the retirement rate of RNs,  as 55 percent of the current RN workforce are 50 or older, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. More than 1 million RNs will reach retirement age withing the next 10 to 15 years.

The shortage has affected nurses and patients alike, with an increased and heavy workload for nurses and less detailed care for patients. According to a report done by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, inadequate nurse staffing has been a factor in 24 percent of the 1,609 cases involving patient death, injury, or permanent loss of function reported since 1997. For nurses, the shortage has meant increased stress levels, longer hours, and job dissatisfaction. On the other hand, as incentive to persuade young people to join the nursing field, higher salaries are being offered, as well as large sign-on bonuses.

In order to minimize the shortage, many colleges are taking steps to expand their nursing programs and to get students more interested in joining the health care industry. Many students have realized that the shortage means easy post graduate employment, prompting them to join the nursing track. Sixty percent of graduates from Sinclair School of Nursing in Missouri had confirmed jobs even before graduation. One organization, Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, made up of 40 national nursing and health care organizations are working to address the shortage. The coalition has created a website as well as an advertising campaign and secured media coverage to spread the word about the shortage and to encourage young people to join the field.

The nursing shortage is a long-term problem that requires long-term solutions and mainly the best solution is to get our young people interested in nursing. Campaigns, higher salaries, and an increased awareness of what being a nurse really means are the first steps. 

About the Author: Ed is a guest contributor from CNA Free Training, a free online resource offering impeccable CNA training for nursing jobs.

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