Nursing and a Nurse is one of the most important components of the health care hierarchy in that they see to the moment to moment care needs of patients after the doctor has performed his diagnosis and or services. Their responsibilities broach a wide spectrum of services with one of the most important being the administration of acute care. This type of care is one rung below critical care, however it is just as important in the recovery of a patient. The shortage of nurses has reached a crisis point for health care services. The Canadian health care system is currently facing a challenge in delivering timely health care to Canadians. A number of issues including the effects of economic rationalism, generational differences, working conditions and nurse education are revisited in a discussion that aims to refuel the debate on workplace reform for nurses. The Canadian health care system is currently facing a challenge in delivering timely health care to Canadians. Health care, long a topic of media attention, has received even more focus within the past few years.
With the Canadian health care system facing significant issues regarding access to care, waiting time (emergency visit or any kind of surgery). Increased demands for access coupled with systemic financial constraints, and a growing shortage of health care professionals, such as physicians and nurses, new roles will need to be examined and implemented to alleviate the strain currently faced by the system.
The health care system has been facing health care professional shortage, which has been exacerbated by growing demands on the system from an aging population (CIHI, 2009a, p. 40). According to the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), if the current trend in nursing is not changed, Canada will experience a shortage in nursing of around 31 percent by 2016 (Villeneuve & MacDonald, 2006, p. 78). While this shortage has been building for many years, it has recently been compounded by the fact that much of both the medical and nursing workforce are comprised of baby-boomers who are now reaching retirement age (Schofield & Beard, 2005). The void left by these retiring workers will be very difficult to fill.
Economic rationalism has altered the healthcare service landscape. Attempts to balance service delivery with workforce resources have led to possibly unforeseen changes. Highly skilled nurses are required in acute services, however resource allocation may prevent this. The nursing workforce is aging although the current nursing workforce consists of three generations: baby boomers, generation X and generation Y. There are significant ideological and work organisational differences between these generations leading to possible conflict between nurses. The pool of available nurses to fill employment vacancies is finite. Attracting overseas nurses to fill nurse vacancies will leave vacancies elsewhere and is not a long-term solution to the nursing shortage. Moreover, if the workplace has not addressed the reasons why nurses have left the health care workplace then there is a real danger of losing those recently attracted back into the workplace. Working conditions are a critical element within the retention puzzle. Job satisfaction dimensions such as autonomy and professional relationships are key components for improving working conditions. The final issue explored is the question of whether the tertiary education system is the most appropriate place in which to develop and educate nurses. It is suggested that workplace reforms should be the target of retention strategies rather than changes in the educational process of nursing. The problem of how nursing shortages affect patient care in an acute care setting were found to be profound in terms of the depth of the problem and the complex variables this type of care entails. As health care in many cases is a life or death issue, underlying problems can have dire consequences in...