Challenges Facing the Nursing Profession

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  • Topic: Nursing, Baby boomer, Health care
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  • Published : February 2, 2012
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Challenges Facing the Nursing Profession in the 21st Century By: Kerry Z

Today there is a national nursing shortage as the healthcare industry rapidly changes. Aging baby boomers mean demands on the healthcare system will only increase in the coming years. Fast forward a few years and we see many challenges ahead for nurses.

Our textbook covers issues such as generational differences in an aging workforce with poor prospects for replacements, high acuity and short staffing, conflict in the workplace, expanding technology, an increasingly intercultural society, and issues involving access, cost, quality of care, safety, and accountability. While these issues are very important, I am going to focus on nursing shortages and the aging population as two challenges nurses in the future must overcome.

You’ve likely heard about the nursing shortage for years now, and perhaps you think it’s been resolved. However, registered nurses are still at the top of the list when it comes to employment growth. The nursing shortage in simple terms is a lack of skilled practicing nurses.

There are many reasons for the lack of nurses such as decreased retention, frequent turnover, and early retirement. Much of the work is being outsourced to traveling nurses, agency nurses, foreign born nurses, or older married nurses (Buerhaus, Staiger & Auebach, 2003). Hospital care is diminishing and going into the community and home. Outpatient and home services are becoming more utilized in health care. Families are being thrust into caregiver roles, thus leaving nurses to care for the very ill.

One of the biggest problems that many prospective nursing students face is the lack of nursing education programs. Although many students may be interested and qualified to enter nursing schools, there just are not enough spots in local nursing programs to accommodate the prospective students.

Nurses currently in the field are getting...
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