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Causes of the Nursing Shortage

Info: 1261 words (5 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 18th May 2020

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The purpose of this paper is to shine a light on the nursing shortage issues as well as give examples of how nurses are affected physically, mentally, and emotionally as well as examples of the lack of care patients received due to the nursing shortage. This paper will give researched articles that suggest how high the demand can be for more nurses to help alleviate the strain on the current nursing workforce.  This paper will also give a proposed solution to one issue related to the nursing shortage and ideas of how to make this solution prove to be effective.  There are five published references used to provide evidence-based information regarding the nursing shortage issue that will be used to show why the nursing shortage exist.

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The nursing workforce is overwhelmed and overworked and in need of help to provide better care for those in need. Registered Nurse shortages by 2020 are predicted to be more than 150,000 (Zhang, Tai, Pforsich & Lin, 2017). There is a high demand for nurses and not enough of them to satisify the need. Nursing shortages lead to many issues in the workforce related to lack of self care for the nurse and lack of  patient care for the patient. It is pretty much like a domino effect due to the nursing shortage then becomes the problems with nursing burnout, increased call outs, potential for medication errors, and omission of many other patient related issues. The reality of the nursing shortage is that almost every nurse has experienced a time where this occured and for many it is an everyday normal.

Nursing is a great job and can be very rewarding, but when the nursings shortages are an everyday norm it leads to nurse burnout and increased callouts along with lack of self care for the nurse. Nurses have reported working days with 5-10 minute lunch breaks and 1 bathroom break in a 12 hour workday (Cox, Willis & Coustasse, 2014). When nurses are so busy with their own tasks and taking care of thier assigned patients they are not able to help their fellow coworkers which in turn can make them feel like they have no support. I dont know of any nurses who want to work at a job where they have no support from their coworkers. I say that to say this, it does not take long for the nurses to start feeling burnout. The risk assoicated with the increased workloads due to the said nursing shortages lead to the nurse feeling fatigued and not being able to do her job as effectively. These increased work loads also are at the expense of the patient.

Issues related to the nursing shortages that are at the expense of the patient range from low patient satisfaction and even patient mortality. The hazard of death increased by 3% for each day a patient spend on a unit with RN staffing below the mean for  that unit (Rosenberg, 2019). There is such a high risk for medication errors when working short such as increased falls, and lack of compassionate care resulting in patients not seeking medication attention as necessary. Nurses are rushig to complete task so that they can complete everything they need to do in a timely manner which could result in less handwashing and an increase infection rates. The time restraists for patient education lack therfore patients are not getting the proper education they need to promtote healthier lifestyles as well.

The lack of nurses is not directly impacted from one specifc reason. To be honest, there are numerous reason that there are nursing shortages. One example for nursing shortage is retirement age. Nurses who are part of the baby boomer generatin, born between 1945 and 1964, are retiring in greater numbers (Haryanto, 2019). On the opposite end of the specturm, there are the new graduate nurses who require time for training. Those nurses who are new graduates are finding that some medical providerare sekign expericenced nurses and are not hiring new graduates because of the cost of training and lack of experience (Cox, Willis & Coustasse, 2014).

All nurses in the nursing workforce are looking for a solution and hoping for a postive outcome to relieve some of the stain for the staff and patients realted to the nursing shortages. We all know not every hospital and every department are severly lacking, but those that are have nurses begging for pay increases to make up for the extra work they are doing. Most nurses feel that administration does not listen to their needs and make little efforts towards retention issues. State-to-state supply-and-demand varations are resported, related to shifts in growth, demographics, and population movement (Haryanto, 2019). No matter the variations, most places look at what is in the budget than what is safe for staff and patients.

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One solution to help allivate the nursing shortage would be to add more nursing schools and or add more spots for nursing students at the schools that already have a nursing program. Initiatives include the following: the American Nurses Association push for Congress to allocate funds to nursing schools and organizations that increase access to nursing education, enchanicing diveristy of nurses to better relect patient population and providing loan assistance for graduates who pursue positions in underserved regions (Haryanto, 2019). So if there are funds for students to attend school there would be an increase in nursing graduates. In a survey conducted by teh American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in 2000, 220 colleges reported 379 facutly vacancies, which contributed to schools’ turning away almost 6,000 qualified applicants (Mee, 2003). There is an availibilty of people  and they want to get the education requrired to be a licensed nurse. There are more nurses in the workforce who are getting advanced degrees so hopefully this will fill the vacancies and we will soon start seeing more gruadating nurses.

In conclusion, the nursing shotage is realitiy and there is a definte need for more nurses. There are many issues associated with shortage of nurses that affect both the cuurent working force and the patients. Even though there are many reasons for the shortage there are an abundace of people who want to become nurses. With the proposed solutions of finding funds and making more room for nursing students to graduate there can be a positive outcome for the nursing shortages we face.


  • Cox, P., Willis, W., & Coustasse, A. (2014). The American Epidemic: The U.S. Nursing Shortage and Turnover Problem. Marshall Digital Scholar, Spring 3-2014. Retrieved from https://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1125&context=mgmt_faculty
  • Haryanto, M. (2019). Nursing Shortage: Myth or Fact? Orthopedic Nursing, 38(1), 1. doi: 10.1097/nor.0000000000000535
  • Mee, C. L., & Robinson, E. (2003). What’s different about this Nursing Shortage? Nursing,        33(1), 51-55. doi: 10.1097/00152193-200301000-00040
  • Rosenberg, K. (2019). RN Shortages Negatively Impact Patient Safety. American Journal of Nursing, 119(3), 51. doi: 10.1097/01.naj.0000554040.98991.23
  • Zhang, X., Tai, D., Pforsich, H., & Lin, V. (2017). United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast: A Revisit. American Journal of Medical Quality, 33(3), 229-236. doi: 10.1177/1062860617738328


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