The nursing shortage is an important issue that many states should consider, as the rate is alarming. For example, in the United States, the nursing shortage is fueled by an increased aging population and employee burnout among many. There has been an existing gap between the supply of registered nurses and the demand, as revealed by federal data provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services even before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the nursing shortage is an issue that should be looked into because, as we are all aware, nurses look after the sick, disabled and elderly (Nardi & Gyurko, 2013). Their well-being is our priority, thus the need to handle the challenge of the shortage of nurses. Nurses are a critical part of the healthcare system and make up the most significant section of the profession.
Nursing shortage continues to be accelerated by factors like inequitable workforce distribution, inadequate potential educators and increased turnover. Moreover, other causes are related to the shortage of nurses. One of the causes of the nursing shortage is the increased rate of the aging population. The highest number of people in the United States is 65 and above, which increases the need for health services. Old age comes with health issues like heart disease, hypertension and limited mobility, which calls for a caregiver who is trained chiefly nurses (Nardi & Gyurko, 2013). Older people get diagnosed with diseases that require 24-hour care, and this means that they need nurses at their aid most of the time. The old age population is surviving longer, which wholly causes increased use of health services.
Another cause related to the shortage of nurses is the aging workforce, just like the population they serve. One-third of the registered nurses in the U.S. workforce are older than 50, meaning they could be at their retirement age in the next 15 to 10 years. This number poses a massive problem because it implies that the nursing faculty will have to train more nurses with limited resources, which becomes a challenge (Nardi & Gyurko, 2013). Once the nursing faculty is experiencing a shortage, enrollment is limited; this limits the number of nursing students that schools can generate. Limited and decreased faculty causes fewer nursing students and a decline in the overall classes and quality of the program.
Additionally, some nurses graduate from nursing school and are eager to start working, but then they realize that field is different from what they expected it to be. They end up quitting. Some nurses work for a while, then experience burnout and leave that profession. Such cases contribute to the shortage of nurses in the healthcare system (Nardi & Gyurko, 2013). The majority of individuals in the nursing profession are females. Mainly during the childbearing years, nurses go on leave or cut back. However, not all of them eventually return as others move to new jobs.
The shortage of nurses is also different according to region, as some regions have increased nurses and low potential for growth while other regions are struggling to meet their basic needs. The shortage of nurses varies greatly depending on the region of the country, as higher shortages are witnessed in different areas depending on the nursing specialty (Nardi & Gyurko, 2013). Some regions have real shortages of labour and delivery nurses, critical nurses and other specialists. Moreover, growth affects the supply of nurses. The regions with a high retirement population will likely need more nurses.
Additionally, violence in healthcare institutions contributes to the shortage of nurses. A threat of physical and emotional abuse added to an already stressful environment contributes to nurses resigning or retiring early. Nurses’ job satisfaction and work effort are affected by emotional and physical insults. (Gerolamo, et al., 2022) For instance, psychiatric and emergency department nurses are at a higher risk due to the composition of their patient population. Nurses experience verbal abuse from their patients as they are spoken to using loud tones by their patients as they work. Such cases lead to nurses resigning from their jobs, taking early retirement or changing careers, which contributes to the shortage of nurses.
Using an onboarding program to make new nurses feel welcome is one of the solutions to reduce the nursing shortage. Nurse autonomy, community, and group cohesion help reduce the turnover of nurses. Once hospitals have brought in new nurses, they should ensure that the nurses feel welcome through an onboarding program which enables employee retention (Gerolamo et al., 2022). A good onboarding program enables the new nurses to feel less overwhelmed in their first weeks of work, encouraging them to stick to the job and bring along their friends to work with them.
Healthcare facilities should incentivize the behaviours they want from their nurses. It can be achieved by providing incentives to encourage good behaviour from the nurses. Gifting nurses for work well done will encourage them to work harder. However, Strategies for Nurse Managers indicates that it is unethical to incentivize unhealthy behaviour. Medical facilities should invest in long-term training and professional development to keep nurses. These institutions should commit themselves to lifelong training and learning in nurses (Gerolamo et al., 2022). As nurses are promoted into managerial positions, they will require more knowledge and skills. The employers can provide them with training through on-site classes, distance learning and self-tutorials.
In conclusion, the nursing shortage has become a worrisome trend, which poses a challenge in running a profitable medical institution that balances patient care and creates a good culture that increases employee retention. The solutions to the nursing shortage and macro trends like addressing legal barriers and aiding nurse students financially, looking into legal barriers that hinder phased retirement are out of the hands of the nurse executives and leaders today. Nevertheless, other creative solutions can be put in place to help in recruiting and retain nurses in medical facilities.
Gerolamo, A. M., Delaney, K. R., Phoenix, B., Black, P., Rushton, A., & Stallings, J. (2022). Psychiatric nursing workforce survey: Results and implications. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 107839032211461. https://doi.org/10.1177/10783903221146190
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. https://doi.org/10.1111/jnu.12030