The Nursing Shortage

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Melisa A. Smith
Dr. Kathryn Skulley
Eng 122-500
22 November 2011
Crisis in America
Back in the late 1930’s, American men were drafted to go off and fight in World War II while women at home had to learn a new way of life to support their families and support the soldiers. A woman named Florence Nightingale who was recognized as one of the first nurses to care for the wounded soldiers during the Crimean war helped to influence other women to learn how to become nurses and care for the sick and wounded. After the war ended in the mid 1940’s, thousands of soldiers returned home to begin the next chapter in their lives by starting a family while women returned to homemaking. In fact, due to the major population shift after the war, thousands and thousands of babies were born in which it would be named the Baby-Boomer generation. Now fast forward to the year 2010, several decades later, the baby-boomer generation is aging and approaching there sixties and beyond at a time when healthcare is beginning to be used more frequently by many others. Now that America is beginning a new era of healthcare with the creation of healthcare reform that soon will create access for the uninsured and underinsured to gain access to healthcare treatments. On March 23, 2010, “The Affordable Care Act” was signed into law by President Obama that would create healthcare access for millions of Americans. This is turn would create a huge strain on the American healthcare system at a time when concerns are rising due to the increased need of services for the baby-boomer generation and the current nursing population to care for them. If Americans already planned on facing a nursing shortage with the baby-boomer generation, then how would the shortage affect everyone else when healthcare reform becomes active in the year two-thousand-fourteen? This paper will discuss some individual points more in detail and evaluate the nursing shortage situation from the beginning of nursing history to present day that could affect all healthcare workers now and in the future. The nursing shortage topic in America has always been a debatable question where it will be analyzed further in detail starting with some statistical data. Looking at the national level for current nursing employment, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics stated that, “2,655,020 registered nurses were currently employed as of May two-thousand and ten” (U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics: Occupation section). The information presented here did not account for self-employed nurses or one’s that currently work multiple jobs. Now on a smaller scale looking at the State of Colorado’s population and registered “nurses per 1000 rate is 7.98 as compared with a national average of 8.36 with an additional need of 1,780 nurses to meet the national average” (The Demographic Challenges Facing Colorado's Health Care Workforce 15). The information noted here did not account for rural areas and small towns where the population is considerably lower. Next, the discussion will continue on about nursing school factors affecting the nursing shortage. Additionally when someone is attracted by the potential for a nursing career and advancement, they must look at all avenues first before deciding and making a commitment to nursing school. However, when someone has made the decision to enroll they must take several prerequisite classes and take a nursing entrance exam before being accepted into a nursing program. Furthermore, after students have taken the required prerequisites, they may not easily be accepted into a nursing program because of limited number of slots available and teaching constraints. In fact, it has been well observed by many schools that the major factor in the nursing shortage is due to the lack of qualified nursing instructors. In the United States, “nursing schools turned away 67,583 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate programs in 2010 due to insufficient...
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