Nursing Shortage that leads to Burnout The nursing shortage is an issue of supply versus demand. The aging workforce and an undersupply of providers and advanced practitioners to take their place is recurrently causing a faculty shortage (Boamah, Callen, & Cruz, 2021). Another reason for the shortage is the shrinking nursing faculty and fewer available seats in the nursing programs.
Competing Needs of the Workforce
It is projected that nursing will be one of the top professions for job growth until the year 2029. It’s expected that the RN workforce will increase by 7%, or 221,900 nurses, in the 10-year period from 2019 to 2029. This is in addition to 175,900 projected RN jobs each year until 2029. Over the last 9 years, we’ve seen approximately 60,000 RNs leave the nursing workforce each year. As of 2018, 55% of nurses working in the US are older than age 50; within the next 10 to 15 years, 1 million RNs will be eligible for retirement (Perkins, 2021).
A variety of factors contribute to the nursing shortage, including working conditions, increased number of patients, violence in the healthcare system, retirement of experienced nurses, difficulty retaining new graduate nurses, a decrease in nursing faculty. Increased workload is negatively affecting the profession by causing nurses to work short-staffed and under increased amounts of stress. This makes many nurses leave the profession. One way that we can address the nursing faculty shortage is to pay them a salary comparable to the salary of other nurses. It’s important to note that the increased cost associated with staffing more nurses is offset by decreased lengths of stay, ICU admissions, infections, and readmissions (Perkins, 2021).
A specific example of a stressor involved with the nursing shortage is COVID-19. Nurses have remained steadfast on the front lines since the beginning of the pandemic, while overcoming challenges and risks to their personal health and safety. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen nurse-to-patient ratios increasing while the number of nurses available to work has decreased. In some organizations, a 1:1 nurse-to-patient ratio is now a 1:4 ratio. It hasn’t been uncommon for up to 10% of nurses in a facility to be out due to COVID-19 related issues, which has put considerable strain on a system that was already strained.
Impact to Policy
Leaders need to create healthy work environments within the healthcare organization, including well-developed policies and procedures that consider the organization, employees, and patients. Multiple studies have shown a correlation between a healthy work environment and job satisfaction. Components of a healthy work environment include effective communication, collaboration, and decision-making in addition to appropriate staffing, transformational leadership, and meaningful recognition. Healthy work environments improve staff performance, satisfaction, and retention. When working to develop healthy work environments, nurse leaders should consult with nurses to determine what works well and what areas can be improved. Positive work environments lead to healthier nurses who perform at high levels and are committed to the organization.
There are many factors that contribute to the nursing shortage. It has been said that enhancing the administrative support might be the most promising facilitator to improving the nursing shortage and retention. The current shortage is not one that nurses alone can solve. It is crucial that administration takes a governmental approach by convening nurses, hospitals, physicians, healthcare personnel, and key stateholders to examine, identify, and then implement real solutions to the nursing shortages (ANA, 2021).
American Nurses Association (ANA). ANA’s proposed policy solutions to address the nurse staffing shortage crisis. (2021). South Carolina Nurse, 28(4), 10–11.
Boamah, S. A., Callen, M., & Cruz, E. (2021). Nursing faculty shortage in Canada: A scoping review of contributing factors. Nursing Outlook, 69(4), 574–588. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.outlook.2021.01.018
Perkins, A. (2021). Nursing shortage: Consequences and solutions. Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!, 19(5), 49–54. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.NME.0000767268.61806.d9
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