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Solutions for the Current Nursing Shortage

Solutions for the Current Nursing Shortage

Stephanie Larkin | Articlesbase.com

The nursing shortage in the United States is estimated between 340,000 to over a million nurses. Many of the nurses that are leaving the field are management and faculty nurses needed by nursing schools for training the new crop of nursing graduates. Many of these upper level administrative nurses are nearing retirement age, just at the time that demand for nursing care is increasing as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age. The number of nurses in hospitals, public nursing, teaching and geriatric centers are all falling behind the demand, with little improvement seen in the immediate future. Some of the solutions for resolving the nursing shortage which have been suggested by various study groups and interested partners are as follows:

Developing public/private partnerships

In many instances, the plans for public/private partnerships involve public funding to increase faculty and attendance at nursing education facilities. Due to an aging population, the same time the demand for nurses is increasing; nursing educators are aging as well and subsequently leaving the workforce. A three fold program has been implemented to increase the number of classes, increase the number of faculty in the nursing field and increase the number of students who have been unable to enter the field previously because of lack of resources and limited enrollment quotas. Public funding will cover part of the gap between supply and demand in the nursing field.

Using technology as a training tool

Although a major part of nursing education is clinical experience, much of the classroom education can be handled through today’s advanced technology. Internet education, distance learning, and accelerated learning programs based around adult work schedules are all ways in which technology can be used as a training tool for nursing educators. As the care of the patient becomes more related to technological advances, routine nursing practices can be drilled by using that same technology. Technology advancements can also be used in testing and certification settings for nursing educators.


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    AngryOncRN

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I worked on my unit before ratios and after ratios went into effect and experienced what a huge difference ratios can make. After ratios I no longer dreaded going to work each day, because while things were still quite busy, having a reasonable number of patients made my assignments manageable. Maybe that makes me a shill, too? Name calling is unecessary.

    My concern about the article is its emphasis on technology as a major fix: "As the care of the patient becomes more related to technological advances, routine nursing practices can be drilled by using that same technology." Technology is being used not just for class room work, or distance learning, but also as a "simulated" substitute for hands on clinical training. There is no substitute for clinical experience. I think that it's a mistake to make nursing students view care as a series of tasks and the patients as an inanimate object.

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    Ludlow

    about 5 years ago

    18 comments

    Enhansing LPN education should make them RNs. Once they get the knowledge and education to take on an RN load they ought to be RNs and paid as RNs

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    Ludlow

    about 5 years ago

    18 comments

    By the way, here at UCSF we have sick time, vacation time as well as education time. If I'm sick I don't have to worry about losing vacation days as I did when I worked at a hospital that had PTO. I hate PTO. I had to choose between going in to work sick and not having enough vacation days to do what my family had planned. Since we work in environments that have compromised patients it is crucial that we be able to stay home when we are contagious or just not feeling up to doing all we have to do to keep our patients safe.

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    Ludlow

    about 5 years ago

    18 comments

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that the fewer patients you have the better attention you can pay to them and the better care you can give them. That's the bottom line of RN to patient ratios. The UCSF study does not include enough data from the ratios that finally reached recommended levels beginning 08 so I don't hold much stock in the UCSF study even though I am a UCSF RN (and I am not proud of the way they did the research in the study earlier mentioned).

    Education is so essential. As we know, most of nursing is practical, hands on knowledge. What you experience is far more valuable than what you read in a computer-based learning module or through technology assisted simulation. Those have their place, but I'd rather be able (as I can because of my CNA-negotiated contract) to take a day with pay and go to a class taught by flesh and blood people who have years and years of experience.

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    chicodavidrn

    about 5 years ago

    4 comments

    Gee, all that writing without managing to mention any of the real solutions: treat nurses with respect, give them workloads they can manage and pay them decently. It's pretty much the things that assure adequate numbers of workers in any field. As to whether the ratios in California have had a positive effect, ask the nurses doing the work, not some ivory tower academic whose idea of "research" apparently consisted entirely of asking managers and administrators for their unsupported opinions.

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    MC1948

    about 5 years ago

    6 comments

    What we don't need is the California Nursing Association telling us what to think. They are more concerned with increasing their membership and inflating nursing salaries than finding real solutions. As for staffing ratios, a recent study by UCSF found that they have not improved quality of care. Moreover, studies have shown that younger nurses do embrace new tech. RN4MERCY - are you just a shill for the CNA?

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    sweetrose918

    about 5 years ago

    10 comments

    I have to agree w/ RN4Mercy. One of the bigger reasons for the Nursing Shortage is the forced overtime and short staffing that the majority of the hospitals demand from nurses. The comments I have heard are "so what's the difference if you work an extra shift. You are getting well compensated for it." These people need to understand that nurses have a life outside their jobs. The compensation is nice, but not when it takes away from the family and home life of the nurse. I know and have known many nurses who screen their calls on their days off because they don't want to be called in to work. And it's not like they have a choice. If they speak to the administrator on the other end of the line, they are told.. you WILL come in for this shift... and they know they will be "punished" if they don't comply. Hence the call screening.

    The other issue is the cost of the education. I'm currently in a Family NP track in a MSN program, and the cost is approximately $500 per credit. I know many people who will tell you that amount is actually cheap for Grad School. That may be the case, but it doesn't make it easier to get student loans or grants. I've called the banks and because I'm not in a medical, dental, osteopathic, or pharmalogical school, I cannot get loans for living expenses. Which means I have to take longer for this program because I have to work, and I cannot concentrate on my studies as much as I need to.

    Lastly, the other issue that needs to be addressed besides the understaffing, is the need for flexibility in scheduling of nurses. Not everyone can work 12 hour shifts, nor work the night shifts, but 90% of the hospital jobs are asking for that. I'm a single mom with an autistic son. I cannot leave him home alone at night while I go to work in a hospital. I don't have any family in the area to watch him then either. When I've applied for day jobs or the rare mid-day positions, I'm told that they want "experienced" nurses in those positions, not "newer" nurses. Well, you can't have your cake and eat it too. You can't gain experience if no one will hire you in the times you can work.

    The whole system needs to be addressed. Not just the shortages, but health care in general. I do not advocate "socialized medicine", but there needs to be a way to address the needs of everyone without taxing the system itself. Perhaps if we got rid of some of the frivolous lawsuits out there, more people would stay in practice or go into a healthcare career. Do as the Europeans do on this. The looser of the case pays all the fees. If you bring in a frivolous suit, and it gets tossed out, you pay your attorneys's fees as well as the fees for the person/ business you sue.

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    RN4MERCY

    about 5 years ago

    10 comments

    Although well intended, this article just elaborates more on the problems, while overlooking, and almost studiously avoiding a discussion on an effective solution: enriched RN-to-patient-Ratios. Poor staffing is linked to higher infection, longer length of stay, and increased complication rates for patients. Intolerable working conditions lead to RN burnout. and exacerbates the shortage. In a recent workforce survey, problems with and overreliance on information "technologies" have been shown to be a stong worklife dissatisfier among nurses as well. Strong, effective ratio laws are a critical factor in helping to mitigate the effects of the nursing shortage. Studies by the nation’s most respected scientific and medical researchers affirm the significance of California’s RN-to-patient ratios for patient safety. Read about the ratio solution here:
    http://www.calnurses.org/assets/pdf/ratios/rations_solve_rn_shortag...
    http://www.calnurses.org/assets/pdf/ratios/ratios_patient_safety.pdf

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    chuckeileen

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I think all of these suggestions sound great. As a graduate from a Diploma School of Nursing in Michigan, many of the suggestions were contained in our program and with the hospital that we participated in. Using student nurses in an area that they had been taught and passed, the hospital got some cheap labor and the student gained invaluable hands on knowledge that helped in their later careers and in taking the State Board Exam. It was the best way for me (in the early 70's) to help pay for nursing school as well as the experience of working vacations and weekends under the mentorship of seasoned nurses. I had real life experience that I draw from even today.
    When nurses were more involved at the administrative level of a hospital or private practice, there was much more understanding in the needs of nurses, patients and rational that often involved getting "business employees" to understand the view from a patient and nurses eyes. Everyone benefited, patients, nurses and the hospital came to have a very good reputation which the administration loved. Utilizing LPN's is excellent also. There are things that a seasoned LPN can teach a new young nurse as well as some of us seasoned ones. Isn't it funny how things in life go in circles?
    Registered Nurse in Michigan

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