FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2003
United American Nurses, AFL-CIO (UAN)
America's Staff Nurses Cite Higher Pay, Improved Staffing as Top Solutions to Shortage, According to UAN National Survey
UAN survey released today reveals staff RNs' solutions to the nurse staffing shortage
Washington, DC -- The solution to the bedside nurse staffing shortage - which could balloon as high as 800,000 to one million in coming years - lies in paying nurses more and decreasing the number of patients each nurse must care for, said a majority of staff RNs polled in a national sample survey released today by the United American Nurses, AFL-CIO (UAN).
UAN, the labor arm of the American Nurses Association, is the nation's largest RN union, representing 100,000 nurses nationwide. The national poll of 600 hospital staff nurses providing direct nursing care was conducted via telephone from November 4-11, 2002 by Lake Snell Perry & Associates.
Fully 82 percent of those surveyed responded that increased pay was a top solution to the nurse staffing shortage; 85 percent responded that a reduced nurse/patient ratio would improve the shortage. Other highly rated solutions include greater autonomy and control for staff nurses (66 percent) and safer working conditions (65 percent).
Nurses offered these solutions in the face of a nurse staffing crisis that is widely predicted to worsen soon. Eight out of 10 survey respondents feel there is a serious shortage in their hospital, and 3 out of 10 respondents said it's unlikely they will be a hospital staff nurse in five years.
"When nurse staffing isn't up to safe levels, our patients are at risk and they're not getting full value for their money," said UAN President Cheryl Johnson, RN. "In this poll, nurses have given us their professional assessment that the nursing shortage is the biggest problem in hospitals today. More to the point, they've told us what it will take to cure it."
Currently, the American Hospital Association reports that 126,000 RN positions are going unfilled. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, there could be a deficit of 808,000 nurses by 2020; Bureau of Labor Statistics data suggest that this estimate could go as high as one million nurses by 2010. Direct links have been made between adequate nursing care in hospitals and better patient outcomes.
Survey respondents cited work-related stress, patient load and inadequate pay as the top three reasons nurses leave the profession
. A majority of nurses (54/53 percent - split sample) feels their hospitals are doing only a fair to poor job attracting and retaining nurses.
"Hospitals could change all of those things. Most haven't even tried," added Johnson. "Instead, they've tried to cure the nursing shortage with Band-Aids, bromides and placebos. Radical change is the only effective treatment."
Discrepancy between the problem and solution identified by respondents was particularly stark in the area of nurse wages. Six out of 10 nurses surveyed make less than $46,000 a year - and 55 percent of staff nurses with more than 10 years of experience make less than $46,000. Two-thirds of those polled feel they make less money than the demands of their job warrant. Of those who feel they make a lot less, a third believe their appropriate salary is $70,000 or more.
"Staff nurses are essential in patient care and survival, and staff nurses are still underpaid and undervalued," said UAN Director Susan Bianchi-Sand. "Health care organizations like the American Hospital Association and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations have conducted studies, issued reports and made recommendations about how to fix the nursing shortage, but NURSES' solutions must now be heard."
"The results of this poll are a wake-up call to our nation's hospitals," stated Johnson. "Nurses have now said what it will take to keep more of us at the bedside. The question for hospital administrators is whether or not they will implement these solutions.
I believe patients around this country - all of whom deserve to be well-cared for by a registered nurse - should expect as much."
Please note: Poll results are available at www.UANnurse.org
direct comments and questions to:
# # #
The United American Nurses, AFL-CIO, the labor arm of the American Nurses Association, is the nation's largest RN union, run for Rns and by Rns, representing 100,000 nurses, the UAN consits of state nurses associations or collective bargaining programs from 24 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.