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There does not appear to be a "chicken little" quality involved in the resources reviewed; indeed, the statistics cited make it abundantly clear that the healthcare profession is in big trouble today and things are going to get worse before they get better in the future. Indeed, the authors of the resources reviewed did not pull any punches in their portrayal of the impact that the current and impending nursing shortage is going to have on the profession and on the quality of healthcare services in the future. Furthermore, it was apparent from the review that the implications of a growing shortage for the nursing profession itself were severe, but none of the authors emphasized just how difficult it is to be a nurse today.
Notwithstanding the popular perception of professional nurses in clean scrubs delivering timely medical care, the harsh reality of the situation is that nurses are routinely called upon to care for patients who are difficult to manage (either by virtue of their health condition or otherwise) and encounter all manner of bodily excreta including HIV-infected vomit, urine and feces. It is little wonder that many people who might aspire to this helping profession because of an innate sense of wanting to help others may be steered away from the profession because of existing understaffing levels, strict legal and ethical considerations and a woefully low pay scale compared to the credentials needed and the work involved.
The research showed that the United States is currently experiencing a severe shortage of qualified nurses and there was a near consensus that the problem is expected to become much more severe in the future as the Baby Boomer segment of the population retires and begins to experience a wide range of age-related medical problems. Although nursing shortages have occurred in the past, the research also showed that the nursing shortage today is different in fundamental ways as a result of changes in demographics, work expectations and a growing sense of job dissatisfaction as a result of understaffing and overworked nurses. The effect of job dissatisfaction on employee turnover is well documented, and it is reasonable to conclude that unless and until enough resources are brought to bear on the problem in meaningful ways, the shortage will simply continue to grow worse and patient care will suffer as a result. In addition, as fewer and fewer nurses are available to care for more and more patients, the problems of burnout and job dissatisfaction too will continue to worsen, thereby further exacerbating an already bad situation. More money for wages and a relaxation of immigration laws to allow foreign nurses to more easily emigrate to the United States are steps in the right direction, but they will not solve the problem by themselves. To help overcome this national healthcare threat, there must be a multifaceted and comprehensive approach involved that addresses all of the issues and constraints identified in the review of the literature, as well as more active recruitment of nursing candidates by nursing schools across the country.
Anderson, S. (2007, September). Deadly consequences: The hidden impact of America's nursing shortage. National Foundation for American Policy brief, 1-11. [Online]. Available:
Writing for the NFAP, author cites the growing elderly segment of the American
population and cautions that unless something drastic is done today, the shortage of qualified nursing staff in the United States is going to mean more and more people are going to be denied the level of healthcare services they need for age-related condition in the future. Author also emphasizes that more than 1.2 million new nurses will be needed by the year 2014 to satisfy the growing demand but current enrollment levels will not nearly satisfy this need. Author's recommendations to relax immigration laws so that foreign nurses can help alleviate the problem is a step in the right direction, but he also notes that much more is going to be required from government policymakers at all levels to solve this problem today and in the future.
Elgie, R. (2007, November 28). Politics, economics, and nursing shortages: A critical look at United States government policies. Nursing Economics. [Online]. Available: http://
Author suggests that the use of government subsidies to help nurses attend college and receive their degrees has adversely affected current wage levels because many nurses have not invested large sums of money in this pursuit and recommends reducing or eliminating these subsidies so that the invisible hand of the marketplace can help create an environment where nurses are paid what they are worth rather than in trying to produce more nurses as fast as possible through governmental action.
Glover, N.M. & Blankenship, C.J. (2007). Mexican and Mexican-Americans' beliefs about God in relation to disability. The Journal of Rehabilitation, 73(4), 41-42.
Authors are researchers at The University of Texas -- Pan American and cite the increasing number of Hispanics who are accounting for a growing segment of the American demographic. Authors provide a review of the relevant literature and the results of a survey concerning Mexican-Americans' perceptions about healthcare in general and their reluctance to seek out medical care for disabilities in particular due to powerful cultural forces that make cross-cultural nursing considerations a highly important feature for nurses today.
Halter, M.J. (2002). Stigma in psychiatric nursing. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 38(1), 23-
Author is an MSN and RN and serves as associate professor of nursing at Malone
College, Canton, Ohio. Halter makes the point that despite a greater degree of autonomy afforded psychiatric nurses to date, there remains a stigma associated with this specialty that may adversely affect the ability of nursing colleges to recruit suitable candidates in the future. Furthermore, many nursing students suffer from the misperception that all psychiatric patients are violent and disagreeable, and believe they may be injured at work if they pursue this specialty. Author recommends a thorough reevaluation of this specialty area in order to develop a greater awareness of the existence of stigma associated with psychiatric nursing and improve recruiting in the future.
O'Connell, J. & Bryan, P.B. (2000). More Hippocrates, less hypocrisy: 'Early offers' as a means of implementing the Institute of Medicine's Recommendations on malpractice law.
Journal of Law and Health, 15(1), 23-24.
O'Connell (B.A., J.D.) is the Samuel H. McCoy II Professor of Law at the University of Virginia and Bryan (B.A.) is also holds a juris doctorate. Authors make the point that the vast majority of medical misadventures are not the result of individual error but are rather the result of an accumulation of opportunities for human error that are part and parcel of the enormously complex medical system in place today. Authors recommend reducing healthcare providers' liability for medical malpractice lawsuits through an increased confidentiality of current reporting approaches in order to nurses to be more forthcoming concerning the admission of minor medical errors that do not lead to serious adverse events, thereby providing the medical community with improved opportunities to learn from their mistakes and prevent future harm to patients.
Rosseter, R. (2009, February 26). Despite surge of interest in nursing careers, new AACN data confirm that too few nurses are entering the healthcare workforce. BusinessWire.
[Online]. Available: http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/?ndmView
Author is the contact point with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and cites the organization's president, Fay Raines and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL),
Majority Whip, and the ACCN's CEO and Executive Director Geraldine "Polly"
Bednash who recently called for increased enrollment in the nation's nursing schools in as an important first step in order to satisfy current and future demand.
Stanton, M. (2004, March). Hospital nurse staffing and quality of care. Research in Action, 14,
Author is an M.A. And cites the results of recent studies that point to the growing need for qualified nurses today and in the future, and provides numerous examples of how each individual decrease in the number of nurses in the staff-to-patient ratio serves to increase adverse healthcare outcomes. One of the more poignant issues to emerge from this analysis was just how different the nursing shortage…[continue]
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