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Health sector is one of the most important organs of governance in any country weather in Europe, United States or Africa. It is therefore a sensitive area which requires attention of every leader for better service. Being a key player in human life, there is no doubt that it is faced with a number of challenges which continue affecting its performance. One of these problems is the shortage of registered nurses in the United States. Nursing shortage generally refers to a situation where the demand for already existing nurses is greater than the supply. This scenario is currently experienced in many countries including but not limited to the United States, Norway, Austria and the United Kingdom. Shortage of nurses is quite common in many developed countries and those with exponential population growth rate. It is obvious that when the population of a country is steeply increasing strategic planning has to be considered in order to counteract the increasing demand for medical services. According to the survey carried out in the United States in 2009 indicated that the nation was experiencing a shortage of about one hundred thousand nurses and that the number was expected to rise to about 1.1 million by 2012 (Nursing Shortage Statistics).
With the expected rise in the number of registered nurses in the United States, it is obvious that service delivery in the healthcare is being impacted negatively. It therefore remains the responsibility of the government to implement policies that will promote curbing the problem. Even as all leaders in the U.S reason together to combat shortage of registered nurses, it of paramount importance to also consider some of the factors which have promoted this medical scourge. As mentioned above, steep population in the U.S has remains to be a major cause of shortage of registered nurses due to continued rise in the their demand. Another contributing factor is the diminishing number of students being admitted to pursue nursing. This is because of completion from other careers which seem to be better than nursing thus attracting more candidates (Background Brief).
Shortage of nurses is also as a result of low salaries and wages paid to nurses. In comparison to other disciplines, nurses seen as being rewarded by pea nuts for their hard work and dedication to sever the nation. Additionally, there is an aging nursing workforce in the United States. This implies that there exists a staff gap such that only aged people serve as nurses in the absence of upcoming nurses who are to take up responsibilities in the near future. Poor working conditions also contribute to the low and wanting number of registered nurses with many young people opting to pursue different career courses. The last among countless factors which contribute to shortage of nurses is the high aging rate of the population of the United Sates. Since the number of old people is getting higher than the youth, there is a possibility of health services demand rising (Buerhaus et al. 2000).
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One may wonder if really shortage of registered nurses is an issue but the fact is that there are several problems which are as a result of this. The most significant issue associated with shortage of registered nurses is service delivery. Since the supply of nurses can not cope with the demand, nurses are faced with dilemma of either offering poor services or not attending to some cases. In cases where available nurses struggle to perform their duties they find themselves straining and being limited to serve effectively. This in turn affects both patients and nurses. Patients, who are attended to receive poor services which may worsen the problem, serve as a temporary solution or others lose their precious lives in the lives of helpless and overwhelmed nurses. This is quite painful especially when innocent patients lose their lives in government health institutions as a result of inadequate number of nurses available to render required services.
Poor medical services also lead to increased infection among patients. Due to lack of enough health attendants, many patients develop complications and end up infecting other patients in the hospital especially for infectious diseases. This also threatens the life and safety of nurses who are to attend to them. On the other hand, nurses who are employed undergo challenges on a daily basis even as they struggle to offer the best they have. Most of them work under strenuous conditions making them to work beyond their efficiency elastic limit. This straining among nurses has been described as a major destructor among nurses and doctors in the United States and other nations experiencing shortage of registered nurses (Nevidjon & Erickson, 2001). Busy schedules for nurses augment development of health complications among nurses like stress which is quite prevalent according to various surveys. To worse extremes, some nurses commit suicide as result of excess work and stress.
Based on then nature of shortage of registered nurses as a major problem in the United States, it is clear that amicable solutions are needed to deal with it immediately. However, since the problem can not be solved by one person in a single day, it is important for the spirit of together to dwell among leaders and other stakeholders in the health system and decides on modalities of dealing with the problem. It is also important to note that solutions to deal with the problem affect other sectors like education, policy and regulations and health care systems. Working terms have to be revised and be in accordance with other professions (Nursing Shortage Statistics). Many nurses quit nursing due to low wages and unfair working conditions which have to be improved in order to attract more people to join the profession and retain those who are already practicing it.
Another solution to shortage of registered nurses is revising nursing curriculum in schools and colleges to attract more students (Aya Healthcare). It is note worthy that a review of courses being offered be undertaken to offer degree programs which are more applicable in real life situations. With the increasing population of the United States, it is also reasonable to add more training centers in order to increase the number of nurses being registered every year from graduate schools in the U.S. Students also need to be shown the need of pursuing nursing together with future opportunities which may be realized. This would give registered nurses the passion to work and remain optimistic for that which the career offers in future.
In addition there is need for increased job security for registered nurses. This can only be achieved by opening other opportunities like further studies and promotions. As a result, many people may not only decide to pursue nursing as a course but also have the passion to remain in the field to old age (Donelan et al). As a key player in planning, the Senate has to consider allocating enough funds to the health system so that the needs of nurses can be met in terms of improving their salary and hiring others to improve service delivery. Private bodies and even non governmental organizations should be encouraged to offer funding and financial support to the health sector in order to deal with the shortage of registered leaders. Lastly, the need to strengthen Associations which bring together nurses and other leaders from other professions should be encouraged to promote bonding among nurses and to act as a voice for the voiceless.
It is quiet alarming that the United States being the world’s super power experiences shortage of registered nurses posing a threat to many people in hospitals and outside. There is total need for every person to be involved in dealing with the issue it is not a one man’s problem. It needs reasoning together and weighing the best option. However, communication is very important in ensuring that there exists a link between nurses and the government. This would ensure that relevant information like the number of nurses needed is obtained in advance. Above all priority needs to be given to the health sector by the Senate in terms of budgetary allocation.
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