will nursing shortage ever become a nursing job shortage

  1. I recently read an article on allnurses about a shortage of nursing jobs in the UK. Do you all think this will ever happen in the US. I may be totally off base, but sometimes I worry that we will overcompensate for the shortage and end up with too many nurses and not enough positions.
    For example, I have heard the government gives special immigration assistance to nurses from other countries. Also, I have noticed a plethora of "accelerated" degree programs for nursing at community colleges and other institutions. These programs advertise a nursing degree in 15 months!!! Also, the BSN program I graduated from is taking classes of over 100 students, and this is in a relatively small metro area. So what do you all think? Any chance we could ever overcompensate for the so-called shortage?
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    It might. You forgot one factor that will increasingly change things. The fact that many patients are going to other countries to have procedures or surgeries done that are completely unaffordable here in the USA. I think outsourcing medical and nursing care is indeed going to be a real issue in this country. I know a few people already who have gone to places like Mexico and abroad to have things done. I also know many who have headed to Canada to have major dental care done they could not afford here.

    Things they are a'changin' and it all ain't for the better.

    There are already pockets in the USA where there are more nurses than jobs available. the "shortage" is not of nurses really but of those willing to put up with constant understaffing, disrespect from all sides and the physical pain of the labor we do. The "good" jobs are already in very short supply (meaning those where staffing ratios are fair and nurses feel respected and heard by administrators and doctors). I know if I were anything but perdiem I would probably have quit long ago from burnout and lack of respect by so many. If it were not for the patients whose gratitude I feel from time to time, I would be long-gone. And I have only been a nurse less than 10 years.
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Nov 7, '06
  4. by   Tweety
    What's probably going to counter all of that is the Post WWII baby boomers. There are 76 million of us and the first wave is just past 60. We have diseases of affluence - diabeties, obesity, heart disease, cancers etc.

    There was a time in the 90s here in my county where new grad nurses had a hard time finding hospital jobs and it lasted a couple of years. So it could happen again, but the future looks bright in my opinion.
  5. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Another major factor is the increasing desire by hospitals and doctors to use unlicensed personnel to do what have been traditionally nursing-only tasks. I would agree with Tweety that aging America will change things, but I also think in order to save $$$ and fill "shortages" of nurses, legislators will push harder than ever to allow unlicensed personnel, who come at a much cheaper price, to do things that nurses NOW do. Yes, I see this becoming very wide-spread. Extensive use of UAP is already in place in many LTC's (where many Baby Boomers will be, in say, 20-30 years). The hospitals would love to follow suit as soon as possible, i am certain; it will save a lot of money and relieve that pesky "nursing shortage". I envision a scary day when one licensed person will be responsible for large teams of UAPs doing the patient care in every hospital in the country. I would be "win-win" for the hospitals for this to happen. But not a big win for the increasingly sicker and needier population entering into their care. Scary to me, indeed.
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Nov 7, '06
  6. by   Tweety
    Deb it may not be happening in OB, but it's already happening in med-surg. We have high RN ratios on days shift 6-8 because UAP are on the floor helping. However, they aren't really doing things that we do, so in the end RNs burn out and patient safety is compromised.
  7. by   SmilingBluEyes
    You support my point perfectly. That is why I can't possibly say the future is necessarily all that rosy for "lots of jobs" for nurses in the USA. Combining all the above factors, especially the increased universal use of UAPs, there is no way we can be 100% optomistic that there will be "plenty" of jobs for licensed nurses. I forsee a deepening shortage of decent jobs for nurses, if the "suits" and corporations have their way.

    Imagine being the ONLY licensed nurse on an entire med-surg floor, signing off on assessments, tx, and meds. It's a horrible thought, but entirely realistic, the way we are going.

    "Patient safety" is a buzzphrase by JCAHO, but the brunt of this continues born by licensed nurses, whose numbers already are dwindling. The real concept of "safety" is ever-evolving into something that has not nearly so much to do with safety as it does CYA in the hospital environment of today.

    And you are right, UAP are not used extensively in OB---yet. The litigious nature of OB I am sure, has everything to do with this right now. But who is to say, that cannot change? Not I.

    I dont' know bout you, but I do not want to be "that nurse" responsible for so many lives under my watch. I can't say I will continue as an RN if things keep going as they are....and that is scary and depressing, because I have always wanted to do this job----care for people. But my job is ever-tougher (like everyone's) due to increased paperwork being foisted on us that has little to nothing to do with improving "patient safety" (that same buzzword again). I don't want to be unable to sleep nights for not caring for people the way I know is right.
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Nov 7, '06
  8. by   emmycRN
    I hope that the NCSBN will be on top of this issue, shooting down any attempt by hospitals to cut down on nurses and sacrifice good pt care. My hospital may move to a new "model" where nurses in the ICU will have 3-4 patients each, and the step-down unit with 6/nurse (doing total pt care with no assistants). I'm not sure what they have in store for med-surg.
    I know that the ANA lobbies hard for nurses but I also know few nurses who are members due to cost and other factors.
    I'm torn because on one hand I see nursing as a "sure thing" career with many jobs in various specialties, but on the other hand I keep hearing things that make me wonder what the future will be. I fear that all the hooplah around the nursing shortage has caused "the powers that be" to do what they do best, cut corners and make things a whole lot worse. Instead of talk about improving conditions I just hear bright ideas like bringing in nurses from other countries and using UAP's to do nursing care. Another thing, hospitals have become corporatioins and "big business" so I worry that they will get their way just like the rest of corporate America.
    Okay, I'm starting to sound paranoid even to myself. But at least it's food for thought.:spin:
  9. by   SmilingBluEyes
    They are not "on it" (MSNBC and other news outlets). UAPs are already a fact of life and being used increasingly by many places/doctors. There are a lot of threads on this already; one major concern is that public being mislead, either deliberably or not, that their cares and treatments are being accomplished by LICENSED NURSES, when they are not. This is a problem that won't go away; if anything, it will get bigger. Part of it is the fact that many places are in the red already, and they see nurses as liabilities and major operating expenses, not assets or income-generating people. You cannot convince bean-counters otherwise---unless it would be their care at risk. Then it might matter to them.......or not.

    But I think nursing is far from "a sure thing" for these many reasons.
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Nov 7, '06
  10. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    There already pockets of nursing job shortages in several areas of the US.
  11. by   Cherish
    Sorry to sound stupid but what is a UAP?
    is it like a patient tech?
  12. by   SmilingBluEyes
    You don't sound stupid. UAP means Unlicensed Assistive Personnel

    e.g. a nurses' aide, medication aide, scrub tech, etc.
  13. by   emmycRN
    Where are these pockets where nursing jobs are already in short supply? This is news too me and I am highly curious. Also getting a little more nervous than when I started this thread. I was hoping this fear was all in my head and far from becoming a reality.
  14. by   llg
    I doubt that there will truly be a true "over-supply" of RN's in the foreseeable future. However, that doesn't mean that the exact jobs that we have now and the exact same functioning of RN's in all settings will always be there.

    The health care job market is evolving constantly -- and nursing will continue to evolve within it. While a particular job as it is now practiced may disappear, there will always be a need for people with a solid, broad education who is capable of assessing health care needs, providing care, and evaluating care. Good nurses who update their education regularly and remain flexible should always be able to support themselves by adapting their practice to meet the health care needs of their community.

    Those nurses who don't continually update (and upgrade) their qualifications may find themselves left behind --seeking jobs that no longer exist. That's true of any career field. Don't let those fears drive you away from nursing. Maintain your knowledge and skills at the highest levels and be flexible in your job expectations and you will be able to find work. Plan your career to include on-going education and be open to the possibililties that the many changes in health care will bring during your lifetime.

    llg

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