Nursing Shortage: A Problem for Healthcare Systems - Essay Example

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In this paper "Nursing Shortage: A Problem for Healthcare Systems", an author describes the important role that nursing shortage plays in healthcare systems, its causes, and strategies to solve a worldwide matter that continues to grow. …
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Nursing Shortage: A Problem for Healthcare Systems
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Download file to see previous pages According to the US Department of Labor (2008), there are three major educational routes to become a registered nurse: a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing, an associate degree in nursing, and a diploma. Once students graduate from an approved program, they must pass a national licensing examination in order to obtain a license. Data from the National Employment Matrix shows that Registered Nurses are projected to generate about 587,000 new jobs over the 2006-16 periods, and that they constitute the largest health care occupation, with 2.5 million jobs.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2002, cited by Westendorf, 2007) has revealed that the workforce is currently at a median age of 43.3 years. In addition, in the year 2020, the demand for nurses will exceed the supply by 20% (American Organization of Nurse Executives 1999, cited by Johnson et al., 2006). If the current tendency is sustained, the shortage will have catastrophic effects.

Factors causing the problem
New healthcare technologies, surgical improvements, and drug developments, among other variables, have increased life expectancy.

Epidemiologic transition has increased degenerative, chronic, and man-made diseases, and has displaced pandemics of infection as the primary causes of morbidity (Omran, 2005). The demand far exceeded the supply, creating a severe imbalance. Various excellent models have emerged to minimize the shortage in various countries.

Several revisions have listed the multiple causes for this shortage (Johnson et al., 2006): the aging of the workforce, where experienced nurses are getting older; retirement, as experienced workers in this field are quitting their jobs in hospital settings, because of other business perspectives, or time has arrived to do it; escalating needs of older patients, as we said the epidemiologic transition brings chronic diseases to the scenario and conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and their consequences deserve chronic care; and tighter financial times in different economies: salaries are low and are not increasing, so the workforce is inclined to migrate from low-salary regions to places with better monetary conditions.

Abdualrub (2007) also lists the fact that there are unattractive conditions, and fewer individuals are selecting this career. He further explains there is a vicious circle in working conditions, turnovers and faculty enrollment, and nurses are employed by a "monopsonistic labor market", where a single firm hires labor (Tuker 1997, cited by Abdualrub 2007), that is to say hospitals. In some countries, there are also "high workloads, limited clinical autonomy and poor work conditions".

Potential strategies to resolve the problem
As Johnson et al. (2006) disclose nursing recruitment and retention efforts have focused in: increasing supply by making nursing a more attractive, and lucrative option; improving the conditions of practice in health care institutions, and slowing the exit of nurses from the system. In this same matter, Westendorf (2007) highlights the importance of retaining the quality nurses that have been recruited; job satisfaction makes fewer nurses to leave ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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