The United States has a massive Nursing shortage, and the problem is only going to grow. Due to an influx of patients into our health system, the retirement of baby boomers, and educational obstacles, Nursing positions aren’t being filled fast enough to keep up with demand.
By 2022, the American Nursing Association predicts the U.S. may need more than 1 million new Nurses to both care for a growing number of older Americans and replace retiring Nurses.
“I’ve been a Nurse for 40 years, and the shortage is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Ron Moore, who retired in October from his position as Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer for Charleston Area Medical Center.
More people have access to health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act passage in 2010. This has led to an increase in people seeking medical care. Another reason for the increase in patients is medical technology has advanced to the point that it has enabled people to live longer. The number of people over the age of 65 in this country is rapidly increasing. There are more Americans over the age of 65 now than at any other time in the country’s history. It’s predicted that this number will continue to grow, which means more people with health issues and more people in Nursing homes.
Students appear to have a high level of interest in a Nursing career. It pays well, has strong projected job security, and allows practitioners to do meaningful work. However, when applicants send in their transcripts, many are turned away or wait-listed.
The problem in Nursing education is there aren’t enough teachers to educate student Nurses. Not only that, but the current faculty’s median age is in the 50s, so many of them will be looking to retire soon.
For those that do get accepted into Nursing programs, there’s the cost of schooling to worry about. Whether trying to attain a Nursing license through an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s program, the costs add up. Also those pursuing a specialty have to be prepared to devote years to their professional development.
Grants and scholarships like the DiversityNursing.com $5,000 Education Award, can help with some of this burden, but unfortunately, there just aren’t enough to go around.
Seun Ross, Director of Nursing practice and work environment for the American Nurses Association, thinks focus should be placed on boosting resources available to Nursing schools so they can hire more teachers who, in turn, can train more students. She also said hospitals must invest in the experience of Nursing, buying cutting-edge equipment and cultivating an inclusive work culture in order to get the most out of their Nurses.
In terms of work environment, the American Nurses Association suggests introducing more flexibility into the work environment structure and scheduling programs; rewarding experienced Nurses for serving as mentors to new Nurses; and implementing appropriate salary and benefit programs.
Nurses comprise the backbone of the entire health care industry. Without them, the whole thing collapses. At every level, the quality of care and human touch necessary for positive outcomes link directly to the Nursing staff.