ANA Addresses the Cause for and Solutions to the Nursing Shortage at Senate Committee Hearing
Washington, DC -- Today Ann O'Sullivan, MSN, RN, testified on behalf of the American Nurses Association (ANA) before the Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia. O'Sullivan, president of the Illinois Nursing Association, provided comments on efforts to improve the recruitment and retention of registered nurses (RNs).
ANA is concerned by current staffing shortages and by reports showing that the nursing workforce will soon fail to meet the demand for nursing services. O'Sullivan stated, "As RNs are the largest single group of health care professionals in the United States, the current and emerging nursing shortage poses a real threat to our nation's health care system."
ANA maintains that the reasons for the current staffing shortages and the answers to the impending shortage are multifaceted. Of particular concern is the negative impact today's working environment is having on the retention of RNs as well as the ability of the profession to recruit students. O'Sullivan's statement to the Senate committee highlighted the fact that large numbers of RNs are leaving the bedside and enrollments in nursing schools
have dropped in each of the last six consecutive years.
O'Sullivan further highlighted the problems caused by inadequate staffing and mandatory overtime. She stated, "There is not a current shortfall in the number of nurses, per se. Rather, there is a shortage of positions that these RNs find attractive." O'Sullivan went on to explain, "Nurses are, understandably, reluctant to accept positions in which they will face inappropriate staffing, be confronted by mandatory overtime, inappropriately rushed through patient care activities and face retaliation if they report unsafe practices."
In her written testimony, O'Sullivan provided the committee with an ANA supported integrated state and federal legislative campaign that addresses the current and impending nursing shortage. Key federal initiatives addressed in the comments included elimination of mandatory overtime, models for adequate staffing, support for nurse education and whistleblower protections.
In addition, O'Sullivan expressed the opposition that she and the ANA share about the use of immigration as a means to address staffing shortages. ANA has serious ethical concerns with the recruitment of foreign-trained nurses when there is a worldwide shortage of nurses. O'Sullivan insisted, "We should not look overseas when the real problem is the fact that the U.S. health care industry has failed to maintain a work environment that is conducive to safe, quality nursing practice and that retains experienced American nurses in patient care."