The Realities of the Nurse Shortage

By: Anne Harvester

If you are interested in jobs in healthcare, you might wanted to consider training to become a nurse. Nursing schools are available at college and university settings, and you can also get an accredited college degree online in the field of nursing. If nursing is your passion, you might want to know that there is a shortage of nurses in the United States. Here are some causes and some possible solutions for the nursing shortage.

There are over two and a half million licensed practical nurses working in the United States today. While there is a great need for nurses starting careers in healthcare, the number of new nurses graduating from accredited nursing schools is not keeping up with demand, and thus the shortage of nurses in the US.

One reason why there is a nurse shortage is the need for qualified staff to teach nurses at colleges and universities. These type of nurse-teachers must hold a Masters or Doctoral degree in order to train nurses in a college registered nurse training program. With a shortage of qualified instructors, there are not enough instructors to go around, and therefore the nursing schools sometimes have to limit enrollment into their RN programs. Another factor that plays into this scenario in some instances is that nursing faculty are sometimes not paid as well as those other faculty with similar levels of schooling in other fields.

Another aspect of the nursing shortage has to do with the hiring practices of some health care organizations and corporate hospitals. Sometimes registered nurses are recruited from other countries to come to the United States to work, on professional work visas, and this has begun to limit work opportunities for nurses trained here in the United States. Some of the issues that come with this practice is that training levels for nurses vary from country to country, so some practicing nurses from outside the United States might not have the same level of preparation as local nurses do. It can also undercut the salaries and improvement of work conditions that help retain qualified nurses in the profession. Cultural differences can also play a part in differences in nursing outcomes that might be customarily expected in the United States.

There are some solutions that are being worked on to help alleviate the nursing shortage in the United States. Legislation is in the process of being enacted so encourage new nurses to enter the profession and to help retain experienced nurses in the field. Organizations are being formed to come up with strategies to combat the problem, and coalitions are being formed so that people and organizations related to the nursing field can join together to make sure that there will be trained nurses working under good circumstances and situations available as needed in the United States both now and in the future.

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