Healthcare Policy on Shortage of Nurses
Nursing shortage came about as a result of a series of events like unchecked population growth and unpredicted opening of new employment options. The nursing profession faces shortages when things like new employments are less than the retirements. This is the current situation in the nursing field. The number of retiring nurses or those about to retire is big while the young people are less attracted to nursing jobs. The nursing profession also suffers when the economy is doing well and there are many other careers to choose from. The economy doing well gives people and most especially women options of careers that pay better. The current shortage is as a result of the economy improving at some point and the women who would naturally join the nursing profession found other things to do. This slows down the replacement of retirees and at the same time increases the number of people who require nursing attention. Nurses when overworked, deliver less than satisfactory services, not due to negligence but the high pressures of the job. The pressures of the job contribute to the shortages when the nurses opt to work in other places and leave the profession (Keenan, 2003). Working constantly under high pressures means that the nurses themselves end up needing care due to fatigue and mental exhaustion.
Nurses shortage problems started with the baby boom generation where so many children were born, the population grew immensely while the economy was doing well. There is a big group of old people that now require health care as the baby boom generation is getting old. The number of people signing up for nursing so far is not small but the demand is too high it cannot be easily met., while the old people needing health care are increasing (White, 2017). The nursing profession had a problem with salaries when there was inflation in the country. Like all other professions, nurses suffered and considering their type of work, less people were interested in joining the profession later.
The nurses also require to have the conditions of work improved so that they extend the same courtesy to patients. The nurses at the moment are over worked and this makes them inefficient. The shortage has also been caused by the facilities for training nurses being too small and underfunded. The government needs to work on this issue because the population is growing steadily and the need for nurses will continue growing (Keenan, 2003). The nurses in practice at the moment are prone to making expensive medical mistakes because of the strain the work load puts on them. The nursing schools have to be expanded to accommodate more students. Students have been applying to get into nursing schools but a large number does not get accepted despite being qualified due to the lack of space and funds to train them properly (Nursing, 2006). Generally, the nurses’ shortage is a very dangerous thing for the public.
The nursing shortage can be addressed in a couple of ways but the most important would be to have the media start a campaign that shows the pros of nursing as a profession. This will encourage more young people to pursue nursing as a career. It will also ensure that the people who have a passion for nursing and are already in the profession are encouraged to keep working hard. While the positivity campaigns are going on, the states’ governments should ensure that there is a way in which the youths who want to pursue nursing as a profession and are qualified can get into nursing schools. The training facilities will then have to be expanded to accommodate all the people who want to take nursing as a career.
Nursing is a satisfying career for the professionals who love the job. The shortage of nurses can only be addressed by training and employing more nurses. It can also be addressed when the nurses have time to care for their patients and teach them how to take care of themselves after the medical care is withdrawn. This will prevent reinfections and in the long run, reduce the number of readmissions. In this way, the nurses get to attend to patients that really need the services and those whose conditions could not be prevented.
The society can also help manage the shortage of nursing by people taking good care of themselves to prevent avoidable sicknesses. The number of people who have lifestyle diseases like obesity should be encouraged to take better care of themselves by feeding healthy in order to reduce the pressure on the medical facilities in case they develop heart conditions and have to be taken care of in the hospital. There are many other diseases that can be prevented by the general public taking part in helping reduce the burden on the already over worked nurses. A society that can effectively take care of its health will reduce the shortage of nurses by reducing the number of medical conditions that need hospitals care. There should be incentives that encourage the registered nurses to remain in the nursing profession. Nurses have been quitting the profession due to the extreme working conditions for less stressful and even less paying jobs. The nursing profession should have good working conditions that do not make the nurses uncomfortable in a way that they find it easier to settle for a less paying job that is comfortable.
Working under pressure has never been easy. In the nursing profession, pressure is the daily routine. Working when there is a shortage, I expect that I will have to work longer shifts and serve more people than I comfortably can. However, it is important to ensure that where possible, a patient is cared for and given the right amount of attention. As a nurse I will encourage other young people to enroll in nursing school. It may be a small and almost insignificant quest but it will help reduce the pressure on someone else even if not me directly. As a qualified nurse I will try and ensure that every patient under my care knows how to take care of themselves post hospitalization because it is important to reduce the occurrences of readmissions. The proper education of the patients on their conditions helps reduce the eventualities of them coming back worse off than when they first got admitted. For instance; a diabetic patient may be treated but if they are not further instructed on self-care practices, the likelihood that the patient will come back with foot ulcer is high. The patient may not know how to take care themselves even when they are under medication.
Being a health care employee during a shortage means that one has to get creative to ensure that the job gets done and the patients are sorted as they should be. The shortage will mean that nurses have to look after each other. As a nurse I will have to ensure that my colleagues are not suffering from any conditions that could be made worse by the fact that they have to work longer hours. As a nurse I will have to take positively the fact that there is work to be done which is to save lives and take care of patients. I may have to start preparing now for the eventuality that I will work under unflattering conditions where the work is more than the people required to do it. This means that I will have to develop thick skin and know that I cannot do it all by myself so that I can effectively focus on the work load I can handle.
I will also try to go an extra mile whenever I can and train the people around me about healthy living to reduce the pressure of excess patients with preventable conditions flooding the hospitals. In a small way it will release the facilities held up by less severe conditions for use by those whose conditions are dire. There is no medical condition that can be ignored, however, there are those which can be prevented. I will also try and find a technology based assistant that the patients can use to access information on after care when they have been discharged. This will operate virtually to ensure that the patient is attended to remotely but quickly and effectively. It will operate like a school portal where the students and tutors communicate and other people can refer to the information on the portal.
The legislature can contribute to safer staffing during a shortage by increasing the allocation of funds to the nursing schools. This may be a slow move but in the long run it will reduce the pressure on the nurses. The ratio of nurses to patients should be in such a way that one nurse does not have so many patients to look after that they cannot adequately cater for their needs. The many people who would be in the nursing profession but got locked out should be reduced and legislation can achieve this (Nursing, 2006). Legislation can also improve the working conditions of nurses in order to prevent the loss of nurses to other professions. Safe staffing is the hiring of properly trained and qualified personnel in whatever field, in this case nursing. There are many ways that legislation can ensure safe staffing during a shortage. Legislation is in a position to create policies that allow for the registered nurses to be assisted more by the nursing aides. This will make it easier for a nurse to supervise the nursing aides and serve more patients effectively during a shortage. The registered nurses working in this manner will be less stretched and can rationally make life saving decisions.
The legislature should ensure that the hospitals are safely staffed. Staffing becomes unsafe when the recruitment and training processes are unregulated. Staffing becomes unsafe also when the personnel is working in bad job environments. The working area security is very important. Even in the cases of shortages, the hospitals should be made safe working environments. One way to do this is for legislation to ensure that the hospitals can provide healthy food for the nurses. It should also have a section where nurses can take a break and rest for a few minutes as they work long shifts. The legislation during times of shortages should seek the opinion of the nurse son what they feel can be done to make the pressure manageable. The legislature in times of shortages can be very instrumental in ensuring that the nursing profession is safe for the nurses. The legislature can also make policies that make it affordable to study nursing for young people (Nursing, 2006). When it is expensive, people opt for less stressful and less expensive career paths even when they have a passion for nursing.
To conclude, the nursing profession is important for a healthy nation. It is important to ensure that the nursing profession is closely monitored so that issues like shortages are noted early and solutions are sought immediately. It is easier to deal with a problem that is known and has been detected early compared to a problem that developed, went undetected and now the circumstances demand that the problem be fixed. The nursing shortage was predicted but the measures taken to deal with it were not as aggressive as the situation demanded. That is the reason why the shortage is so severe right now that patients die due to lack of adequate care and others get reinfections and other problems for lack of proper after care. The nurses may have a passion for the job but given the circumstances, there is nothing much they can do. When patients are too many in a hospital, the nurses have to struggle to take care of as many as they can which means the quality of care reduces significantly.
Keenan, P. (2003). The Nursing Workforce Shortage: Causes, Consequences, Proposed Solutions. New York: The Commonwealth Fund.
Nursing, A. A. (2006). State Legislative Initiatives to Adress the Nursing Shortage. Washington DC.: One Dupont Circle.
White, S. (2017). The Nursing Shortage Isn’t Due to Lack of Interest. Retrieved from Monster World Wide: www.monster.com/career-advice/article/nursing-shortage
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