Understanding the Nursing Shortage - The Gypsy Nurse

By The Gypsy Nurse Staff

June 19, 2012

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Understanding the Nursing Shortage

The Nursing Shortage

Everyone has heard that there is a Nursing Shortage.  The nursing shortage provides a never-ending supply of Travel Nurse Assignments.  A continued nursing shortage is primarily a cause of the following factors:

  • The average age of RNs projected to 44.5 years by 2012, nurses in their 50s are expected to become the largest segment of the nursing workforce, accounting for almost one quarter of the RN population.
  • Nursing colleges and universities across the country are struggling to expand enrollment levels to meet the rising demand for nursing care.
  • According to a May 2001 report, Who Will Care for Each of Us?: America’s Coming Health Care Crisis, released by the Nursing Institute at the University of Illinois College of Nursing, the ratio of potential caregivers to the people most likely to need care, the elderly population, will decrease by 40% between 2010 and 2030. Demographic changes may limit access to health care unless the number of nurses and other caregivers grows in proportion to the rising elderly population.
  • In the March-April 2005 issue of Nursing Economic, Dr. Peter Buerhaus and colleagues found that more than 75% of RNs believe the nursing shortage presents a major problem for the quality of their work life, the quality of patient care, and the amount of time nurses can spend with patients. Looking forward, almost all surveyed nurses see the shortage in the future as a catalyst for increasing stress on nurses (98%), lowering patient care quality (93%) and causing nurses to leave the profession (93%).
  • According to a study in the October 2002 Journal of the American Medical Association, nurses reported greater job dissatisfaction and emotional exhaustion when they were responsible for more patients than they can safely care for. Researcher Dr. Linda Aiken concluded that “failure to retain nurses contributes to avoidable patient deaths.”

What are your thoughts on the nursing shortage?  Do you agree with the experts above?

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