The Reasons for the Nursing Shortage

By Melanie Ullman
Currently the United States and many other modern nations are going through an extreme nursing shortage, with more and more nursing jobs left unfilled.¬† While this is “good news” for nursing school students, it also means that¬† there are not enough nurses employed to fill the need in medical centers and other institutions. The nursing shortage is set to increase in large increments in the future as people retire from nursing or pursue other professions. This will leave a great deficit of qualified nursing professionals to care for people.

With the aging population and the vast number of people seeking medical attention through emergency rooms, the need for nurses it at an all time high and there are a number of reasons why the shortage is so prevalent.

There are a number of reasons why there is a nursing shortage. One of the reasons for the nurse shortage is an inadequate work environment and burnout. Many nurses have to work in environments that are extremely stressful and at times unsupportive. There is always the need to get work done as fast, accurately and efficiently as possible and nurses have to juggle these demands to the best of their ability.

When there are not enough nurses to staff a busy hospital this can cause problems because the nurses on staff have to work twice as much. Certified Nursing Assistants are being used to fill the gaps. Many nurses have to work additional overtime and sometimes double shifts to help cover the current nursing shortage experienced in many hospitals. Some nurses become tired of the less than adequate working environments and the added pressures to do so much with so little help and some decide to leave the profession all together. Finding a way to improve the working environments for nurses so that they will remain in the profession is important.

Another reason for the chronic shortage is lack of adequate compensation. Many nurses believe that they are not compensated properly for their skills. Nurses are the backbone of every medical facility. A doctor may treat the patient but it is the nurse that is responsible for sustaining the patient. They are the ones that respond to codes, dispense medication, and assist with a vast number of other medical procedures. Given all that they do many nurses feel that they are sorely underpaid when compared to the salaries of other medical professionals. Although there are additional opportunities to earn money by working extra shifts or gaining other certifications or advanced education, some people leave the profession for less stressful and more financially rewarding careers.

Compensation has also steered many younger individuals away from the profession. Some students would prefer to be accountants or engineers where they can make a significant amount of money without all the stress. Many hospitals realize that in order to retain the nurses they have and attract more nurses salaries have to be increased and more benefits such as tuition reimbursement and flexible schedules have to be offered.

The difficulty in making nursing an attractive professional option is another reason why the shortage is so prevalent. Many people may like the helping aspect of nursing but may be turned away by other factors such as the long hours, high stress and the fear of making a deadly mistake. The federal government realizes the significance of the nursing shortage and is offering significant financial aid options in the way of grants, scholarships and even loan forgiveness for nursing students. This is being done in an effort to make pursuing nursing as an occupation more attractive.

All of this means that nursing school graduates have a wealth of nursing jobs to choose from. Resolving the issues that are causing the nursing shortage is an important step in alleviating the widespread lack of qualified nursing professionals.

4 Responses to “The Reasons for the Nursing Shortage”

  1. The Reasons for the Nursing Shortage | Says:

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  2. C.V. Compton Shaw Says:

    This article is one of the most insightful, well thought out, and easily understood articles on the causes of the current nursing shortage.
    Give nurses employment stability, a reasonable working environment,educational opportunities subsidized through governmental support, respect, and an opportunity for professional advancement.
    Make sure that nurses and nursing students are treated in a just and equitable manner.
    The same will end the nursing shortage.
    I am a male R.N..
    “LIFE is short, and Art long; the crisis fleeting; experience perilous, and decision difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate.” Hippocrates

  3. Mike Says:

    Thanks for that - good points, great comment!

  4. Online Nursing Programs | Nursing School Programs Says:

    [...] In fact, there is a chronic, worldwide shortage of qualified nurses (you can read hear about the reasons for the nursing shortage). [...]

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