There is another big health crisis affecting the US and that is a chronic nursing shortage. This puts the safety of patients at high risk in hospitals, clinics, private nursing homes and other healthcare facilities where nurses are badly needed. While as many as 116,000 or more job vacancies remain for skilled registered nursing positions throughout the country, several of those positions remain unfilled. This greatly diminishes the quality of care for those to whom they are responsible for helping.
How did things disintegrate?
There are several theories as to why this situation exists. Some assert that the nursing shortages are due to nurses leaving the profession for reasons such as an increase in mandatory overtime, burdensome workloads, lack of respect from the public, as well as from physicians and others in authority, lack of empowerment, pay discrepancies and the restructuring of some facilities.
Others believe that additional contributing factors may be lack of expansion of the level of enrollment in nursing schools, fewer younger nurses being adequately trained and/or hired and gaps being left when older nurses leave.
There are a large number of individuals who continue to express serious interest in becoming a nurse in the US. However, some of them cannot get into nursing schools and colleges because there isn’t enough money or staff available to accommodate them due to cuts in budgets.
These are all valid explanations about why there is a chronic nursing shortage in the US and should be a cause of alarm to prompt change.
One of the major concerns about this issue is that, as the U.S. population gets older and their health declines, there will not be enough qualified nurses around to help meet their needs. This puts patients in danger of receiving less than efficient care and increasing the amount of people who die unnecessarily.
As this unfortunate trend continues to grow, there are nursing advocacy groups, nursing organizations and those in government who are seriously working to address and remedy these troubling nursing shortages.
For example, millions of dollars of stimulus bill money were designated by President Barack Obama to help with shortages of nurses and other healthcare professionals. Advocacy groups like the Center for Nursing Advocacy, Common Cause and the American Nurses Association fight to make the public aware of the chronic nursing shortages and about the difficulties nurses face.
Average citizens should also be encouraged to speak out regarding this issue, to let their government know that they do not want their healthcare jeopardized.
This is a problem that must be solved for the good of the nation’s sick and suffering. When nurses are forced to put in too many hours to compensate for unfilled nursing positions at healthcare facilities, they become increasingly unhappy and more likely to leave. Overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated nurses cannot do their work at their ultimate best.
Something must be done to alleviate the shortage of skilled nurses in the US.
It is quite literally a matter of life or death.