<What can be done by the medical profession to help alleviate the shortage and recruit more nurses? >
I hope you mean HEALTHCARE profession because if we leave it up to the MEDICAL profession (MDs) we'll all be replaced with UAPS & dead as a profession.
What the healthcare profession can do is:
(Nursing Crisis Solutions - legislation developed & presented by the New York State Nurses Assoc to the NYS legislature
RN Solutions to the Nursing Care Crisis:
"Improve workplace conditions
Create enforceable guidelines to ensure safe staffing
End mandatory overtime
Strategies to resolve the immediate need for nurses must include improved working conditions. If practices such as short staffing and mandatory overtime were eliminated, nurses that have left direct care could be enticed to return. If facilities had respect for the principles of nursing practice, the current erosion of the nursing workforce would be stopped. Improved ergonomic standards would help retain older nurses. To retain nurses, the workplace must be safe - safe from violence, safe from pathogens, safe from occupational hazards.
Facilities should follow the example of hospitals recognized *under the Magnet Nursing Services Recognition Program for Excellence in Nursing Service, sponsored by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. At these facilities, which excel both in patient care and in recruitment and retention of nurses (and frequently have waiting lists of nurses who want to work there):
*Nursing professionals' knowledge is respected in the development of policies.
*Nurse practice committees that include direct-care nurses are involved in establishing staffing plans based on patient acuity and need.
*Nurses do not face retaliation or intimidation for questioning policies or working to change practices that negatively impact on patient care.
*Nurses are not forced to work overtime to fill gaps in staffing schedules.
*To encourage nurses to enter or remain in the work force, there must be sufficient nursing care hours to meet patient needs.
Offer competitive salaries and benefits.
Lower the high turnover rates of nursing staff ie:
Provide competitive wage and benefit packages for registered nurses and support personnel.
Improve working conditions to ensure safe staffing.
Wage increases alone will not solve the shortage, but it is important to ensure fair compensation for nurses and salary parity throughout the healthcare industry. For example, compensation for a nurse in long term health should be comparable to that of a nurse in the hospital setting.
Staff competency can be supported through reinstatement of in-house educational services, which have been decimated over the past five years, and a commitment to lifelong learning through continuing education.
What the community & State can do:
Establish reimbursement rates for health care facilities to reflect costs of recruiting and retaining staff:
*Tie funding to evidence of improvements in recruitment and retention.
*Enhance the funding to the NURSING DEPARTMENT, not to a facility's general operating costs.
Develop a stable RN workforce
Collect data on the demographics of the nurse workforce.
Adopt funding and education policies to meet the projected need for nurses.
Fund nursing education
*Establish a conditional scholarship program for nursing education.
*Fund up to $15,000 per year per individual for tuition and other expenses
*Require work in a designated need area for 18 months for every year of scholarship
*Fund 2000 scholarships in the first year
*Include scholarship opportunity for nurses preparing for faculty positions
*Provide funding for expansion of nursing education programs.
*Fund up to $250,000 per school to start-up or expand educational slots for bachelor'sand graduate degree and specialty certificate programs
*Support expansion of baccalaureate completion programs for Associate Degrees RNs
*Encourage increased capacity of CUNY bachelors in science of nursing programs
*Fund enhanced salaries to support faculty recruitment
Support nursing students, present and future
Outreach must be directed toward students and guidance counselors in elementary, middle and high schools. Support must be available for students who need assistance in improving their academic performance, especially in math and science. Merit scholarships should be reinstated to enhance recruitment of high school seniors.
Access to affordable college programs in nursing is essential, through scholarships to offset tuition and other expenses and through increased government aid to nursing programs. We must begin to address this problem now-scholarships created this year will not result in nurses prepared to enter the workforce for three to five years.
Experienced clinicians in facilities must be given the time in their schedules needed to adequately precept students. Mentoring of new licensees and recent hires must be valued as a component of nursing education and orientation.
Support nursing education programs
Nursing education programs must be expanded to accommodate new students and make higher education more accessible in every part of the state. RN baccalaureate completion courses are needed for nurses with associate degrees, as the National Advisory Council on Nursing Education and Practice has identified a need for higher educational preparation due to changes in practice and in patient needs.
The current supply of RNs does not reflect the ethnic, cultural, and racial diversity of New Yorkers. Efforts must be made to provide supports for students and to increase access to urban, public schools of nursing that offer bachelor's degrees.
Teachers of nursing are needed to replace those who are nearing retirement. Support for graduate education will assist nurses in preparing to teach. Faculty salaries must become competitive with clinical practice wages. Faculty-run clinical practices can be used to enhance salaries and maintain clinical skills.
Prevent future shortages and crises of care
Healthcare consumers, policymakers, and researchers need information about the relationship between quality care and hours of nursing care. Facilities should collect and disclose information on staffing mix, staffing ratios, and patient outcomes that indicate the quality of nursing care provided.
Information on the nurse workforce needs to be collected regularly and consistently to avert shortages in the future. Early identification and intervention will help ensure a stable RN workforce.
Legislative Recommendations for 2001
Connect funding enhancements to improved staffing:
State reimbursements for health care should reward facilities that are using their resources to provide quality nursing care. Enhanced funding for health care institutions should be tied to the evidence of increased recruitment and retention, rather than be provided as a rate adjustment that goes to facilities' overall operating costs.
Establish safe staffing guidelines:
Consistent, enforceable guidelines must be developed to support the state's goal of sufficient nursing care. Such a proposal should be flexible enough to apply to various settings, shifts, and levels of patient acuity. Guidelines also must reflect the experience and skill of the nurses delivering the care.
Protect nurses from retaliation:
Existing whistleblower protection laws are not enough to protect healthcare professionals who report violations of their professional standards when they are forced to provide care in an unsafe environment. The state should be responsible for investigating claims of unfair retaliation against employees.
Ban mandatory overtime:
The routine use of mandatory overtime is a danger to both nurses and patients. Overworked, exhausted nurses are unable to provide quality care and are likely to leave the workforce.
Create a conditional scholarship program:
Conditional scholarships will require recipients to make a commitment to work in New York in return for assistance with tuition and other expenses. Scholarships are better than loan forgiveness programs, especially for older nursing students who have difficulty getting loans due to their family incomes and outstanding debt.
Provide financial support for nursing schools:
Grants should be available to nursing schools to either start up or expand nursing education programs, particularly those that will meet the growing need for nurses with bachelor's degrees and from diverse populations.
Collect and disclose quality-related data:
Healthcare facilities should be required to collect data that reflects the quality of nursing care: patient-to-staff ratios, staffing mix, patient complications such as pressure ulcers, in-hospital infections, and medication errors. This information should be part of "hospital report cards" and be made available to the public.
Require continuing education:
Lifelong education is essential to ensure professional competency. Nurses should meet continuing education requirements with each re-registration. "