The foundation of health care system is comprised of the different medical and health-care professions, each considered of playing important and significant role in maintaining satisfactory health care service to people. To be able to maintain an excellent health care service, the system must meet and satisfy the law of supply and demand in our health care professionals -- one aspect in which the nursing area has been experiencing a shortage in supply for some years now.
Nurses are important components of health care service. Without them and the roles they perform, the task of providing care to people's health will be incomplete. Aside from doctors, nurses are among the key characters in health institutions. However, as much as how vital doctors and patients consider the nurses' roles, interest on entering in this type of profession seems to decrease. This is perhaps due to the shifting interest of students on new professions, specifically to technology-related ones. As a result, the percentage rate in shortage of nurses increases year after year.
Countries worldwide are trying to solve the nursing shortage problem to prevent the unwanted consequences it poses to people's health. Through diverse health programs, nursing plans, and incentives, governments and health care institutions try to attract students, individuals interested on the course, as well as nursing graduates who moved to other profession, to pursue a career in nursing. To them, the main problem basically lies on the subject "How to improve the different aspects in the career of nursing to make it an interesting and appealing job."
This study chooses to focus its concern on the reasons why the number of nursing candidates is dropping, and what can be done to improve the attractiveness of the nursing profession to a wider number of candidates. More specifically, this study will focus on how a defined mentoring relationship, as a method in improving the nursing profession's appeal to draw more students and candidates, can positively affect the qualitative aspects of the nursing profession.
Shortage in nursing is a current issue that covers a wide area of discussion. This problem presents a number of subject matters from which related issues are linked. Thus, the structure of discussing a complete view of the problem would require an extensive analysis and research. To allow a simple and comprehensible presentation of the nursing shortage problem, this study will focus its discussion on two areas of the problem:
Reasons behind the nursing shortage
Mentoring relationship as a method in upgrading the nursing profession, and how it can positively affect the objective of making the nursing profession an appealing and attractive job
This study finds these issues to be fundamental yet essential concerns that cause major effects on nursing shortage. This study finds them as critical part of the problem. Thus, they require serious attention and detailed process of analysis to come up with effective solutions. The solutions though are not covered within this study. This study will specifically focus on the research and analysis of the two areas mentioned, from which, this study hopes that the discussion it shall present will be useful for future studies related in the problem of nursing shortage.
To provide basis and references to this study's areas of concern, provided in this paper is a review of several literatures on the same subject.
Nursing shortage is a global problem that continuously grows year after year. According to Bureau of Health Professions (BHP), together with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2002), the demand for nurses, if not resolved, could reach a growth of 29% by 2020. With this analysis, and the apparent trend of the increasing demand for nurses worldwide, knowing the causes behind this problem is essential.
The U.S. General Accounting Office (2001), in their concern on the nursing shortage, noted the following several factors that influence the shrink in the number of nurses.
Reduced entry of younger people into the profession
Declining social value placed on nursing as a career
Changes in career opportunities
Other factors such as lack of educational facilities to accommodate more nursing students, lack of faculty to teach in nursing courses, and limited resources, are critical factors that cause the inability to meet the increasing demand for nurses.
The declining numbers of nurses worldwide resulted to major efforts from governments and health institutions to act on the continuing problem of the nursing shortage in health care systems. One of which, and one of this study's concern, is the implementation of mentorship programs to support future nurse and to add numbers in the supply of nurses. Mentorship programs are collaborative efforts of schools and health institutions that help in the improvement of the nursing career and the services the profession renders.
The main research questions, on the subject of nursing shortage, from which this study is based are:
What factors influence the nursing shortage?
How do mentorship programs help in the improvement of the nursing career as a profession?
To be able to adequately examine and understand the factors behind the shortage of nurses, as well as to learn the positive effects that mentorship programs can provide in the recruitment and retention of nurses, the following research questions are considered by this study as helpful guides to lead the study to its findings.
Is the shortage caused by a decline in nursing enrollments? If so, what are the reasons that made the students decide not to pursue a career in nursing?
Is there a nursing shortage because nurses turn their backs from their profession? If so, what are the reasons?
Is the shortage caused by a decline in the number of nurses who enter the profession? Or is it just because there is an increasing demand due an increasing number of patients in health institutions?
How do society perceive nursing as a profession?
What is mentorship program? What are the processes involve in mentorship programs?
What evidences from implemented mentorship programs prove that the method is effective in improving the nursing profession?
After several years of global shortage of nurses, it is disturbing to learn that the problem is seen to stay for 15 years more or so. If remained unattended and unresolved, the nursing shortage could pose a threat in the delivery of quality health care service, as well as in the health itself of people worldwide. In view of this, it is important that adequate research and analysis be conducted to facilitate the design of necessary solutions that could solve the problem of nursing shortage.
This study finds it significant to begin the research and analysis of nursing shortage problem from the fundamental factors why the problem exists, specifically, the factors that cause the nursing shortage. Part of this is gathering information from related research and studies and literatures. Being able to identify the causes of the nursing shortage problem is an important process that can lead to identification of effective solutions.
Health institutions, governments, and schools, have taken several actions to increase the number of nurses in the profession, and to meet the current nursing demands. It is equally significant that solutions, though have already been implemented, be analyzed in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. Particular to this study is the solution of providing mentorship programs to current nurses and future nurses.
Since the problem of nursing shortage still exists, this study finds it significant to continually analyze the current situation in health care systems. Further examination is important until the nursing shortage problem subsides. Gathering data and extracting analysis and conclusion from previous research and studies and literatures might offer more information and new solutions to the problem.
Review of Literature
Several research and studies on the subject of nursing shortage have based their investigation and analysis on a number of assumptions on the phenomenon. Such includes the unbalanced growth in supply and demand of nurses, the shifting interest of students to other careers such as information technology, the inability of nursing schools to accommodate more students aspiring to become nurses, etc. Though these have been presumed, previous research and studies have proven that there is a reality behind these assumptions.
One of the causes and issues in nursing shortage lies on the capacity of colleges and universities to sufficiently address the nursing shortage. Even during these days, despite of the substantial increase in enrollment in nursing courses, colleges and universities have not yet taken full action to solve the problem. Robyn Nelson, chair of the Division of Nursing at California, State University-Sacramento, indicates this problem in the article Enrollments Surge at Nursing
Schools This Year; Increase Not Enough to Reverse the Nursing Shortage, stating that Though interest is running high in nursing careers, not all students can be accommodated at schools of nursing. 'I have 1,051 students in the pipeline who are interested in pursuing a nursing major, but can only admit 120 students each year'."
Some of the factors leading to such incapacity of schools are lack…