Nursing is a crucial and vital link in patient care and health. The purpose of this paper is to broadly survey the contemporary nursing shortage problem. First, the current nursing shortage will be documented. Second, the causes of the nursing shortage will be briefly noted. Third, the main effects of the nursing shortage will be considered both upon the nursing profession as a whole and upon the ultimate quality of patient care. Although the problem is worldwide in scope, this paper will be primarily focused on the nursing shortage in the United States. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that the United States has an approximately 2.9 million nurses. In which, 1.3 million are employed in a hospital setting (as cited in Cowen, P. S., & Moorhead, S, 2010, p. 13). Many health care facilities do not have an adequate number of nursing staff to provide basic care. As a result of this many emergency rooms have longer wait times due to inadequate staffing. Cowen and Moorhead (2010) understands that “Nurses are precious resources…particularly in hospital practice”. (13) Cowen and Moorhead (2010) mentions that “during the past decade, considerable concern and attention have been devoted to the shortage of nurses” (53) in which is starting to affect the quality of health care in significant ways.
There are many reasons for nursing shortages, such as insufficient staffing that raises the stress level of nurses, impacting job satisfaction, driving many nurses to retire and leave the entire profession. Aiken states that “evidence clearly points to the fact that staffing affects matters of patient safety and nursing satisfaction” (as cited in Cowen, P. S., & Moorhead, S, 2010, p. 17). As the patient to nurse ratio increases, quality of patient care decreases. Lynn and Redman reports “the majority of nurses surveyed report that an increased workload had negatively influenced the quality of care that they are able to provide” (as cited in...
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