Despite the fact that Nursing is projected to be the leader in job growth, 515,000 jobs will remain unfilled by 2015.
What are the contributing factors that have led to this astounding shortage within the healthcare industry?
While the baby boomers continue to age, more insured patients are entering the healthcare forum thus exhausting the existing resources. In addition, patients are more informed in today’s society, and have higher expectations regarding the care they wish to receive.
Concurrently, there are fewer graduating nurses entering the workforce to help alleviate the strain. Nursing schools are becoming more stringent in choosing applicants due to the increase demand.
Simply put, there are not enough nursing instructors to go around. When you combine that with high nursing turnover rates due to stress, low morale, increased patient acuity and a static income, it’s no wonder that we are faced with such a dilemma.
What can we do to fix this problem?
To begin with, we can provide better work environments and benefits for nurses, and encourage continued education by offering tuition reimbursement. Nurses that graduate with an advanced degree are practically guaranteed jobs.
In addition, advanced degree nurses can assist in educating the next generation of nurses that is up and coming. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners reports an average earning potential of $91,310 versus $72,000 for a nurse graduating with a Master’s Degree. Nurses who obtain a Bachelor’s Degree can expect to earn $66,973 annually.
The United States has over 3 million nurses, and RN’s compromise the largest healthcare occupation. The top five states that currently have the highest demand for nursing jobs are:
- New York
The latest statistics suggest that 62% of nurses are employed in a hospital setting; while jobs in telemedicine, nursing infomatics and forensic nursing are joining the new age in healthcare.
While nurses scramble to keep pace with technological advancements, it may be technology itself that alleviates the struggle throughout the nursing shortage. Inventions such as robot delivery systems, SMART cards to chart patient’s healthcare data, and barcode technology to track supplies and medication administration both reduce errors and provide time saving techniques that are mandatory in today’s nursing practice.
Though healthcare is known to be an ever changing market, considering the high paying jobs that remain empty, new strategies are required to fill in the blanks. Educating middle and high schoolers regarding the workforce trends and encouraging young men and women to consider a career in nursing remain forefront.
Research to improve technology that will aid nurses in their job execution, and providing adequate support to assist in the healthcare delivery model will ease the demand that today’s nurses are faced with.
The healthcare system is rapidly transforming, and fortunately it is changing in a way that will reward providers for quality care and prevention of avoidable complications. Nurses will continue to play a key role in this process, supporting patients and each other along the way.
About the Author
Cynthia MacDonald has been a registered nurse for 17 years now, with most of her clinical background focused in pediatric and neonatal intensive care. Although she has worked full-time in a few area hospitals, she has also worked extensively as an agency nurse traveling locally to hospitals in order to fulfill staffing needs, both per diem and on a contract basis. This provided her with a wide base of knowledge and experience on how area hospitals operate their units, and also how different doctors practice. She enjoys working with children and babies on a daily basis, and also interacting with their families during a time of crisis. She was born and raised in the Houston area, and currently resides there with her husband, 3 children and 2 Beagles. She enjoys sailing on Galveston Bay whenever the weather, and her schedule, permit.