Why is nurse shortage a real problem and how should you be taking care of it?
From June 16 to June 23 we celebrate the 45th Annual Nursing Assistants Week, a time to recognize them as well as all the other workers who provide assistance for the care of others. This week is also a great opportunity to reflect on a real problem: nurse shortage. Why is it happening? Is it really that bad? How can we solve it?
Nurse shortage: A challenge for both managers and workers
According to American Progress “employment levels for registered nurses declined by 3% between 2020 and 2021, the largest decline in at least 20 years” and vacancy rates for nursing jobs have reached as high as 30%.
Some of the challenges include the aging population in need of healthcare workers as well as the aging workforce whose retirements increase the shortage.
The rise of travel nursing, workplace violence and discrimination nurses of color and LGBTQ community face, are also factors that contribute to the nursing shortage.
On the other hand, the lack of nurse educators, clinical placements for nursing students, inadequate campus facilities as well as lack of funding, makes it harder for future nurses to enroll and graduate, hindering the growth of professionals in this field.
What can be done to help solve this problem?
Solutions may come from the government, workers, and management. On a managerial level, some actions that can be taken to promote the well-being of nurses and help reduce the problem are:
- Setting minimum nurse-to-patient ratios so limits are established on every shift.
- Setting limits on overtime to avoid adverse health effects on nurses.
- Promote the union of registered nurses so they can have a greater say in their workplace conditions, rates of compensation and approaches to patient care.
- Encourage nurses into leadership roles. According to the American Hospital Association, only 5% of hospitals have a nurse as a trustee.
- Create a physically and mentally safe workplace environment. Employers, educational institutions, nursing organizations, among others, are key players to ensure a great place to work.
Nursing assistants are essential and should be given the recognition they deserve, so from today on and throughout the rest of the year, make sure to say a sincere thank you every time you see them!