Oh, Nurse, Where Art Thou?

Oh, Nurse, Where Art Thou?

Where have all the nurses gone?

V. Susan Carroll / Journal of Neuroscience Nursing

June 09, 2009

We all recently celebrated Nurses’ Week during which we were recognized by our peers, employers, patients, and families for the unique work we do and the care we provide, as well as for our professional accomplishments. For several days, the healthcare spotlight shone on us. Now, however, we are again coping with the day-to-day realities and trends that face nursing in 2009 – staffing shortages, changing patient and caregiver demographics, continued nurse turnover and the vacancies it creates, slow growth in schools of nursing, and debate about ways to reward both individual and institutional quality performance. These trends are bound together by a common thread, a growing shortage of registered nurses. Although projections vary, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that more than 1,000,000 new nurses will be needed by 2016. Demand for nurses is expected to grow by 2%-3% annually, even in a recessionary economic climate. Although the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported a more than 5% enrollment increase in entry-level programs in 2007, their data were tempered by reports that nearly 4 1 ,000 qualified applicants were turned away from both undergraduate and graduate programs because of insufficient numbers of faculty, preceptors, clinical sites, classroom space, and money. Limited enrollment slows the growth of the nation’s nurse population and underscores the climbing age of the typical U.S. nurse.

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So much for gloom and doom… what part can we play in solving this problem? Each of us can support local, statewide, and federal initiatives underway to address the challenges facing the nursing workforce. For example, Tennessee state health officials launched a campaign to fund a scholarship program that will help nurses earn graduate degrees; Illinois offers a program to support faculty fellowships. Contact your state and federal legislators – make your voice heard.

Many nursing colleges and universities have formed partnerships with healthcare businesses, hospitals, and community agencies to expand their clinical teaching faculties and practicum sites. In the past 2 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and the state of Florida itself donated over $1,000,000 to state universities to address critical issues in nursing education. Many hospitals have begun collaborating with schools of nursing to subsidize nurse faculty salaries; many also provide both increased tuition support and flexible scheduling to allow nurses to continue learning. Are these options available in your region of the country or your workplace? Think about taking advantage of them. If you precept “new” nurses as a routine part of your role and find it rewarding, you may have the talent it takes to teach. If you wish you could “mold” students as they leam and share the passion you have for nursing, think about teaching.

Not sure you are ready for this step? Then, encourage your institution’s leaders to support clinical practica across the acuity spectrum. Show students that nurses make a difference in others’ lives; that we matter; and that, although we work hard physically, mentally, and emotionally, it is worth it at the end of the day. Let the students “walk in your moccasins” this is particularly important for us as neuroscience nurses because our patient populations are often perceived by students as “difficult, not fun to care for, never getting better.” Inspire them, show them all the really cutting-edge, “cool” technology we use every day, and let them see how much we know and how we use that knowledge.

Sound Off! How Can We Solve the Nursing Shortage?

Talk about nursing in your community. Touch base with others at local high school and college career days, at soccer games, and at church. Although today’s economy underscores the relative safety of nursing as a lifelong career with many opportunities for growth, we still need to talk about what we do and encourage others to choose the path we have chosen. None of us can solve the nursing shortage single-handedly. It will require a professional community, but each of us can play a role write your own script and become a star.

© YellowBrix 2009

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    That is a factual article. Though nursing, is in demand course at this time, still we can deny the fact that competition for them existed. But aside from that breaking report let me share something new, Football players make a lot of money. When we say football players, we don't mean the NFL – although they make a lot of money – we mean European Football, or soccer, also known as Association Football. (The other code is Rugby football, a game for persons of sophistication and character.) Kaka, or Ricardo Leite, a Brazilian footballer, has been offered a contract of $90 million to play for A.C. Milan, owned by Italian P.M. Silvio Berlusconi – a billionaire, who won't need a cash advance to get a top player. Real Madrid paid over $30 million for a four year contract with David Beckham. (He's good, but George Best.) Good football players never need short term loans.

  • 103315_5__max50


    over 5 years ago


    I totally agree smschafle. I have also been nursing since the seventies and I have seen it time and time again. It's especially bad in the south where "the good old boys" club is still very much alive. The company I work for did absolutely nothing for their nurses during National Nurses Week. Administration needs to wake up and realize that nurses do not mind hard work but we do mind not being paid adequately for it. Entry level nurses are coming in at higher salaries than the employess who have remained loyal to the institution. That is precisely why I left my last position. This is the 21st century. It's time nurses were treated and paid as professionals and respected for the difficult jobs we do. We are the foundation of patient care and we put our licenses on the line every minute of every day in this suit happy country. We have a high risk job and we deserve high risk pay and the opportunity to advance.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    Trying paying and treating the nurse like a professional. Long hours on your feet, shift changes, and poor treatment from administration makes a nurse wonder why she went to college, and why nursing is entitled "professional career" when she is treated like a scuttlery maid. Yes, I said she because every male nurse I've ever known in all my years as a nurse, rose to the top of the ladder within three years after getting out of nursing school. No fairness in nursing where women are concerned. I know, I've been a nurse since the early seventies...had I been a male, I'd be in a high administrative position making great money by now.

  • Mug_shot_2_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Wish there was this problem in Phoenix. A New Grad having a hard time getting a position.

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