Is there really cause for concern about current health care and the demand for more nurses?
- Yes! We have a nursing care shortage of a magnitude unseen in decades. It affects all health care settings – hospitals, nursing homes, home health and outpatient facilities. Registered Nursing (RN) is listed among the top occupations (in terms of job growth) through 2022 and is expected to grow from 2.71 million in 2012 to 3.24 million in 2022. Risks to national health from the nursing shortage are highly acute because nursing is not only the nation’s largest health profession but also comprises the largest percentage of hospital labor force and is the primary provider of long term care.
Why is there a nursing shortage?
- The current supply of nurses cannot meet the current and future demands for nurses. Nurses are aging and current faculty are working toward retirement. Just over half of the RN workforce was age 50 or older and only 10% of the workforce was under the age of 30 years.
- The physical and psychological demands on nurses in practice settings related to high acuity patients with multiple, complex health problems and staffing shortages have discouraged people from entering or remaining in nursing.
- Nursing school enrollments and graduation rates began to decline as fewer nurses entered the field of nursing education. Rising career opportunities for women in other fields forced nursing to compete for qualified candidates.
- Health care has changed. Treatment advances, drug and therapy regimens, long term care for the elderly and new technologies have helped more people live longer with ongoing health problems. This requires nurses with expertise to meet the changing needs of patients.
What are the advantages of a four-year professional nursing program leading to a BA degree versus a two year technical nursing program leading to an AA degree?
Top nurse executives and administrators believe that compared to technical nurses, baccalaureate prepared nurses:
- Have a more comprehensive understanding of the nursing process, patient assessment and documentation.
- Have broader exposure to concepts of case management and care coordination.
- Demonstrate a better understanding of the liberal arts as a basis for nursing.
- Have experience in community health, which brings insight to continuity of care and the discharge planning process.
- Have better oral, written and group communication skills.
- Are able to deal with change and conflict in flexible and objective ways.
- Are more comfortable involving families in care and defining appropriate parameters for them.
- Demonstrate better patient teaching skills in assessing needs and setting priorities because they have a better understanding of the teaching/learning process.
- Relate in a more collaborative manner with other health professionals. They are oriented to an interdisciplinary philosophy.
- Have increased ability to think critically, solve problems, make decisions and incorporate a more comprehensive and holistic view.