Nursing shortage: A myth? - page 2

Hi everyone! When I graduated form RN program, I thought that no matter where I moved, I would find a great job. So far, I had no problem finding a position I wanted. I got multiple offers being 6... Read More

  1. by   Lizzy6
    Quote from NooNieNursie
    Two reasons.

    1) Shortage of nursing instructors. You can only have 10 students with an instructor in the clinical area (and as a nursing student I can't imagine there being more than that ) . The nursing shortage affects nurse educators, too (and many nurses do not want to necessarily be educators *until* they are too old to do bedside/clinical nursing, because nurse education pays like garbage)

    2) Not any/everyone can be a nurse.
    We downplay this often (and tend to emphasize the "touchy feely" part of the profession) but nursing is a sciency field ; ya gotta study lots, gotta have a bit of a brain, and not everyone can hack that. It takes studying, it takes hard work, and to get into nursing school you have to meet a certain intellectual and educational criteria.

    With enough hard work a person can overcome intellectual short commings (I remember a story of a nursing student who took 5 years to complete a 2 year program... now that takes dedication! )
    ... and with enough intelligence, a person can slack off and work a bit less... both will get you through school and your degree/RN.

    However, there is no way around it: you do need a certain requisite amount of ability to work hard and capcity to learn, and the fact of the matter is not everyone who WANTS to be a nurse has what it takes or wants it bad enough to do it.



    This explains why there is a bajillion prospective nursing students but just a teeny tiny fraction of new RNs being popped out every year.

    You might want to check your local newspaper. They don't pay instructors enough money to teach, hence the lack of teachers.
  2. by   NooNieNursie
    Quote from Lizzy6
    You might want to check your local newspaper. They don't pay instructors enough money to teach, hence the lack of teachers.
    That was actually the point I made in reason #1.
  3. by   elkpark
    Quote from Joe NightingMale
    Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to them there is still a shortage, and will be until the foreseeable future. However, it does vary geographically; around Boston there are few vacancies, while in the South and West there are many.
    There are plenty of job openings for nurses, but there is no shortage -- there are more than enough licensed US RNs to fill every open position in the US today. There is no shortage of nurses, there is just a shortage of nurses willing to put up with crappy, dangerous working conditions. Experienced nurses are "voting with their feet," and many new graduates quickly burn out and also leave the field (how many threads are there just on this board about new grads who are getting fed up/burned out and leaving nursing after a year or so?)

    Oddly enough (or perhaps it's not odd at all :uhoh21, discussions about what to do about the "shortage" always revolve around how to get more people through nursing school, not what kinds of changes in working conditions would be necessary to keep experienced nurses at the bedside. Until changes are made in the typical hospital working conditions for nurses, we're just bailing a leaky boat without having first fixed the leak ... However, those kind of changes would involve hospitals spending money, whereas most efforts to increase the number of students graduating each year typically involve spending public money -- guess which proposals hospitals want to talk about???

    Additionally, the "problem" with increasing the number of students in existing nursing program (or starting new nursing programs) isn't simply the difficulty recruiting qualified faculty, although that is always a challenge. There is also more and more difficulty finding clinical sites (particularly the specialty areas -- peds, OB, psych, etc.) for students. There are SOOOOOO many nursing programs now that competition for available clinical sites is fierce in many areas. Until I resigned last Spring, I taught in a state university BSN program in an urban area that had a large number of nursing programs in the area -- a few BSN programs, several community college programs, and a few hospital-based diploma programs. I taught a specialty, and arranging the clinical experiences each year was a nightmare. There were only a few possible sites in the area, and every school wanted (needed) to use those same sites. Some of our students and instructors had to drive an hour each way to clinical, and we (the faculty, not the students!! ) were grateful to have that opportunity.

    IMHO, the answer is not simply to keep ratcheting up the number of "slots" in nursing programs, but to make changes that will make nursing jobs more attractive to the people who are already educated and licensed, and keep them working in the field.
  4. by   HealthyRN
    As another poster pointed out, if you look at the numbers, there is not a true shortage of RNs in this country. There are about 500,000 licensed nurses who are not practicing for various reasons. In any profession, you have people who decide that the career is not for them, they have children and decide to stay at home, or they go back to school for something else. However, I believe that nursing has a signficantly higher rate of people who leave the profession than most other jobs. At one point, I actually found statistics, but I don't have time to find them right now. I'm sure that the problem lies in the working conditions that many nurses are facing in today's acute care environment. Impossible patient loads, low pay relative to the amount of respobsibility, undesirable hours, never-ending documentation, inadequate breaks, etc.- all of these factors play into this.

    However, the nursing shortage is really a complex issue. Not only do a large number of people leave the profession, but there are many other things that occur. As others have mentioned, the nursing instructor shortage definitely plays a large role. Another factor is the aging population that increases the need for nursing care. Also, the average age of nurses is increasing and more nurses are reaching the age of retirement.

    In some of areas of the country, the shortage is more severe than in other areas. You also have to remember that the shortage is in acute care at the bedside. This means that there is not a shortage of all types of nurses, so if you want a nursing job outside of the hospital, it may not be easy to find. Also, many hospitals are looking for a specific type of nurse. For example, hospitals are willing to take new grads because they can pay them much less than experienced nurses. Nurses that have experience but have been out of acute care for awhile may be considered undesirable. I recently had this issue when I wanted to return to acute care after being out for only 7 months. From reading posts on this board, it seems that some other nurses have also had this problem.

    I also believe that hospitals and adminstrators take advantage of the focus on the nursing shortage. They conveniently use this excuse to purposefully short-staff units and save a few bucks. Nurses are told to just grit their teeth and bear it, because after all, it is to be expected because of the "shortage".
  5. by   pkohm
    Alright so both my points made in my first post were correct lol... People quit too soon/Don't use their license, and not enough space in nursing school. My school accepts 140 people a year (70 for summer, 70 for fall), which i thought was sort of low, but i guess if they don't got the teachers/funds then no more can be accepted.
    I don't think it being hard to get into nursing school has too much to do with the problem though since most schools have a low acceptance rate meaning they have more than enough qualified people applying to choose from.
    Last edit by pkohm on Oct 31, '07 : Reason: grammer
  6. by   pagandeva2000
    It is becoming more difficult to keep the desire for nurses to remain at the bedside, as mentioned numerous times in this thread as well as others. Because we are so stressed out, we make our own situations worse by bringing out the bad in each other. It has become a cesspool of nurses looking out for ourselves (because we have to). While many have a desire to be a nurse for compassionate reasons, we have other lives that have come out of balance. Families being ignored, too tired to function for social functions and other obligations and such. Some people say that its just not worth it and cut out.

    For me, this is all I know. I have been an aide, medical assistant, home health aide, and now a nurse. But, I see a bleak future ahead sometimes, and it is hard to keep up the momentum.
  7. by   sister--*
    With business running the show Nurses are working in the "factory" model. Each Nurse is assigned a production number each day. Profit knows no acuity.

    What business ignores is that we're not working with "widgets" (get 'em done and put 'em on the shelf and there they stay), but, with real human beings with ongoing needs.

    Unfortunately it's only at the bedside that these "widgets"/production numbers become real human beings.

    Consequently, Nurses are expected to do more and more with less and less as management cranks-up the production line.

    It's no wonder that so many leave the profession.
  8. by   ASSEDO
    i don't believe for one second there is a nursing shortage. there are nurses whom no longer work because they are exhausted and burned out. they no longer desire to work for low wages and in poor working conditions. if the wages increased, so would the number of nurses returning to the job.
  9. by   hope3456
    There are certain geographic locations that don't have a nursing shortage - northern colorado for example (where I live). Some RN's who move here are surprised at how competitive it is to get hired at the hospital.
  10. by   nurse2b2010
    When I decided to go to nursing school, there were two issues I was concerned with: (1) my age (48 and re-entering school) and (2) whether there would still be as great a need for nurses as there is right now by the time I graduate in 2010. I am not as concerned about my age any longer, but more concerned about the time passing before I will be able to graduate and pass the NCLEX-RN and find a good job. Do I need to be concerned? Will the need still be as great for nurses as it is right now?
  11. by   HealthyRN
    As a new grad, I doubt that you will have trouble finding a job. The question is whether it will be the dream job that you always wanted and envisioned having when you decided to go to nursing school. For the most part, there are jobs to be had in nursing, it is just whether or not it is a job that anyone wants to have.

    Quote from nurse2b2010
    When I decided to go to nursing school, there were two issues I was concerned with: (1) my age (48 and re-entering school) and (2) whether there would still be as great a need for nurses as there is right now by the time I graduate in 2010. I am not as concerned about my age any longer, but more concerned about the time passing before I will be able to graduate and pass the NCLEX-RN and find a good job. Do I need to be concerned? Will the need still be as great for nurses as it is right now?
  12. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    Quote from RN1989
    Perhaps the MYTH that you are referring to is not the one you actually understand as you are a newbie. If you look at the numbers of people holding nursing licenses in this country, there is not a nursing shortage. Because healthcare is so mad, the majority of licensed nurses have left/are leaving nursing jobs and going into non-nursing careers. They do not give up their license - after all it is a lot of work to get - but they will no longer work in healthcare. Thus, the nursing shortage (in areas not saturated with nursing schools and/or foreign nurses).
    I think this is the most concise and accurate post I've ever read on allnurses- with the exception of my own posts.
  13. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    Quote from elkpark
    There are plenty of job openings for nurses, but there is no shortage -- there are more than enough licensed US RNs to fill every open position in the US today. There is no shortage of nurses, there is just a shortage of nurses willing to put up with crappy, dangerous working conditions. Experienced nurses are "voting with their feet," and many new graduates quickly burn out and also leave the field (how many threads are there just on this board about new grads who are getting fed up/burned out and leaving nursing after a year or so?)

    Oddly enough (or perhaps it's not odd at all :uhoh21, discussions about what to do about the "shortage" always revolve around how to get more people through nursing school, not what kinds of changes in working conditions would be necessary to keep experienced nurses at the bedside. Until changes are made in the typical hospital working conditions for nurses, we're just bailing a leaky boat without having first fixed the leak ... However, those kind of changes would involve hospitals spending money, whereas most efforts to increase the number of students graduating each year typically involve spending public money -- guess which proposals hospitals want to talk about???

    Additionally, the "problem" with increasing the number of students in existing nursing program (or starting new nursing programs) isn't simply the difficulty recruiting qualified faculty, although that is always a challenge. There is also more and more difficulty finding clinical sites (particularly the specialty areas -- peds, OB, psych, etc.) for students. There are SOOOOOO many nursing programs now that competition for available clinical sites is fierce in many areas. Until I resigned last Spring, I taught in a state university BSN program in an urban area that had a large number of nursing programs in the area -- a few BSN programs, several community college programs, and a few hospital-based diploma programs. I taught a specialty, and arranging the clinical experiences each year was a nightmare. There were only a few possible sites in the area, and every school wanted (needed) to use those same sites. Some of our students and instructors had to drive an hour each way to clinical, and we (the faculty, not the students!! ) were grateful to have that opportunity.

    IMHO, the answer is not simply to keep ratcheting up the number of "slots" in nursing programs, but to make changes that will make nursing jobs more attractive to the people who are already educated and licensed, and keep them working in the field.
    You are so right, sister!

    For years, I have been comparing the situation to a bleeding pt-
    If your pt is hemorrhaging, do you just transfuse, transfuse, tranfuse? Or do you try to find the source and causes of the bleeding and stop the hemorrhage?

    Because it's easier and cheaper for health-care corproations, our nation has decided to address the so-called "shortage" with the transfusion only approach.

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