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Compelling evidence suggests that regions of the United States face a nursing shortage that our legislators, health officials, and medical professionals must address. To ensure that quality medical care is not harshly impacted, the hospitals and public health leadership, in general, will need to tackle the nursing shortage with solid long-term solutions.
Critical Nursing Shortage
It is no secret that the United States faces a critical nursing shortage of registered nurses, a trend that potentially threatens to undermine quality medical care. One single area of concern does not affect the nursing shortage. In fact, the hospitals, and nursing in particular, are witnessing a combination of problems that range in the following:
- Salary structure
- Medical economics/cost containment
- Post-graduate education
- An aging workforce (pending retirements of baby-boomers)
The public health industry is not sitting idly by to address the shortage. It is critically reviewing the needs for both existing professionals and entering undergraduate students who contemplate nursing as a career.
Multiple Factors Attribute to Nursing Shortage
Amid the concerns of a nursing shortage, there does not seem to be any one major theme. Over the last ten years we've seen complex multiple factors dominate the US where fewer nurses are entering the workforce and acute nursing shortages dictate certain geographic areas. There is a growing realization that the supply of appropriately prepared nurses is inadequate to meet the needs of a diverse population.
The supply for nursing professionals is very tight because many individuals are choosing other careers such as the technology sector or are entering other medical areas like managed care. The nursing shortage and great demand for people has impeded the hiring of registered nurses. Public outcry has caused hospitals to increase nursing staffs in a very competitive hiring environment, and while many hospitals made inroads to address the shortage by offering sign-on bonuses or assistance in relocation, more needs to be explored as to how to retain and keep qualified nurses.
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