How the Nursing Shortage Problem Affects Us All
The nursing shortage problem affects all of us. As the pandemic rises and the aging population increases, we are losing a good number of nurses at faster rates. If you are interested in becoming a nurse or a graduating nursing student, you should know the reasons behind the nursing shortages we are facing today.
A Growing Concern
The shortage of nurses has been a growing concern among hospitals even before the pandemic hit. The American Nurses Association estimated that there would be an 11% growth of nursing shortage until 2022. That said, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that around 175,000 positions for registered nurses would be available each year until 2029. However, this is not the only shortage the U.S. is facing. There is also a need for nurse educators which means, limited nursing program student capacity. When this happens, it will be impossible to keep up with the demands of nursing shortages.
5 Causes of Nursing Shortage Affects Health in General
Over the last decade, the American Nurses Association has discussed the United States’ nursing shortages problems. But what does it mean when there is a shortage of nurses? Shortage of nurses happens when the demand for nurses available is more than the number of nurses available to work. According to the ANA, there are many contributing factors to why, here are five reasons why:
Nursing School Enrollments are Low
Not enough growth in nursing school enrollment to meet the demands for R.N. and APRN services. Reports by the ANA stated that the batch for 2019-2020 Enrollment and Graduation in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing schools in the United States turned away about 80,407 nursing applicants who are qualified because of insufficient faculty, classroom, clinical sites, funds, and classrooms for these students to work on their degree.
Retiring Nurses Equals to Nursing Shortage Problem
The growing number of retiring nurses is also another reason for nursing shortages in hospitals across the states.
According to studies, the average age for working nurses in the field is 50 years old. Although this is not a retiring age yet, the advancement of technologies (computerized charting, medication requests, etc.) can hinder effective nursing care for nurses within this age range.
With the increasing demands in working long hours and the mental and physical needs of the job, many practicing, middle-aged nurses plan on early retirement. It is also a reason why there’s a decrease in the nursing workforce. ANA estimates that a million nurses are about to retire between this year until 2030, with 500,000 retiring nurses in 2022 leaving the nursing world a big gap to fill.
Baby Boomers are Growing Older
The growing number of baby boomers or the generation born between 1946 and 1964 are getting older. This age group population is among the largest in the U.S., tallying 21% of Americans. By 2029, an estimate of 71 million baby boomers aging 65 or older is in total. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that Americans over 65 years old have two or more chronic health conditions. With this number growing, healthcare services will also increase and can cause why the nursing shortage problem affects all of us. 
The Pandemic Crisis
Covid 19 pandemic is also another factor why there is a shortage of nurses today. The burden and stress that caregivers experienced during the pandemic breakout have caused some nurses to quit their jobs. A survey conducted during the earlier months of the pandemic showed that about 67% of nurses considered leaving their jobs due to the virus outbreak. While this survey captured many of the nurses’ emotions around the pandemic breakout, it is most likely that some of them push through quitting their profession.
Nurses are Exhausted
The last factor why there is a shortage in nursing is due to burnout syndrome. Working as a nurse is one of the most stressful jobs in the world. It is not surprising that many nurses become exhausted over time. The last factor why there is a shortage in nursing is due to burnout syndrome.
So what will happen if the nursing shortage continues?
There are three possible outcomes to this:
- The nursing shortage problem means that the present working nurses will have more patient ratios than they can handle.
- When the hospitals are understaffed, many patients will not receive the needed care, or they will have to wait longer. It can lead to patient dissatisfaction, which can reflect negatively on the health care facilities.
- Medication errors and even death can occur when there are not enough nurses on duty, resulting in severe consequences.
How can the nursing shortage problem be resolved?
Seeing the causes of nursing shortages and addressing the situation can help prevent this growing problem. Here are possible solutions:
- Create more educational opportunities for those who are studying nursing or are interested in learning as a nurse. Nursing programs that can help students pay off their student loans or nursing courses that allow flexible schedules for those working but who want to earn a degree in nursing should also be considered an option.
- Improving the working conditions can also help nurses. Allowing nurses to have breaks or leaves can decrease stress, professional dissatisfaction, and burnout. Giving incentives and bonuses to nurses can also help them out and provide them with the drive to work better.
- Provide nurses with training and leadership programs to perform well in their areas and learn new skills. It will also allow them to improve their career as nurses if they decide to work for managerial positions. New nurses can expect to receive mentoring and training from experienced nurse mentors. Additionally, these same mentors can help create new tools that attract people into the profession of nursing.
- Creating groups that advocate for nurses’ well-being can also help address issues experienced by nurse shortage.
Nursing Opportunities for People
The pandemic has affected all of us and more so our health care workers. But as nurses face the threats that the pandemic brought, there is still hope ahead.
A shortage in nurses means new opportunities for aspiring nurses and health facilities to have more applicants in the future. Take it as a chance to pursue your nursing career too. You can choose to work as a travel nurse or as part of a big team in a hospital setting are some of the perks of becoming a nurse.
The shortage of nurses is also an opportunity for health care facilities to change the workload for nurses and improve rules in their workplace. With many people getting sick of Covid-19 and the rise of the aging population, the need for health caregivers will always be high.
There will always be nurses ready to take on new challenges in the United States and help resolve how the nursing shortage problem affects us. Hopefully, we can see people step up and take on the role of becoming future nurses.