I think nurses share some of the blame for the nursing shortage. - page 5

I read recently that only 12% of all nurses are under the age of 30. Being a new graduate BSN and practicing nursing for 18 months, I found that statistic pretty horrifying. I have been visiting... Read More

  1. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    I feel that there some nurses that fuel the problem, i mean, how many threads do you see on here that feature a poster venting about co-workers who are unbearable to work with? Or who are neglegent? Or just plain rude?

    Not saying that the above is an only cause, but that doesn't help matters much either, on top of wacky hours, bad pay, unsafe staffing ratios, etc.
    Last edit by Marie_LPN, RN on Sep 12, '04
  2. by   LadyMadonna
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    i HAVE seen doctors backstab each other...it's just quieter or we are not noticing. It's less noticeable often. Where there are PEOPLE, there will be backstabbers. Nursing has HUGE problems, but we did not create them on our OWN now!
    We didn't start the fire... (I love Billy Joel!)
  3. by   LuvMyFireman
    I very occasionally see a petty, nit-picky nurse who is hateful with students, but it is rare. Very rare. I myself never had a nasty nurse on the clinical sites as a student, but did have one instructor who was sort of vindictive.

    OTOH, as a staff nurse on several different units, I have seen students behave in ways I wouldn't have DREAMED of behaving while in nursing school. (Such as taking all the chairs in the report area so that the nurse who has just worked 12 hours is forced to stand:uhoh21: ) etc. I think it goes both ways.

    I don't think there is any more viciousness or pettiness amongst nurses than in any other job.
  4. by   kar212
    I do recall being a nursing student in the mid 90s and having a few really rotten preceptors, the kind that make you feel like 2 cents. I remember telling myself that someday, when I work with nursing students, I'll always treat them with respect. I have done that. The unit I worked on up until I moved a few months ago welcomed students with open arms. I can't imagine belittling a nursing student, remembering what a scared little mouse I was, just under a decade ago!!!
    Don't you have to really like people to be a nurse? I guess that isn't a rule, but it ought to be one.
  5. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    I do think that nurses themselves have played a part in what is percieved as a nursing "shortage" but I think the number1 reason is too many pts per nurse.
    You said it yourself- new grads leaving because of unsafe pt loads-

    Quote from thegame
    ....One of my fellow students informed me that four other nurses got out of nursing they did not feel safe with the patient load given to them....
    These are young nurses, new grads leaving. I think it is a myth that nurses getting older and retiring is the reason for the "shortage."

    As for why some nurses "eat their young" here is my theory-

    We all know that many people whom have been abused as children grow up to abuse their own children, and those children may likely abuse their children, and the cycle perpetuates itself.

    I think the same thing is happening in nursing. So many nurses have been treated like crap and abused for so long, that they now abuse "their young", and many of those bright-eyed, eager young nurses may someday become beaten down, unhappy, bitter women who perpetuate the cycle by being hateful to the new nurses coming along, and so it goes.

    I think that many in nursing feel devalued, impotent, powerless. They feel like victims. Just as in childhood abuse, sometimes the only time a victim does not feel like a victim is when they take on the role of the abuser.

    I believe this is why many nurses "eat their young."
  6. by   Sheri257
    Quote from Hellllllo Nurse
    I think it is a myth that nurses getting older and retiring is the reason for the "shortage."
    C'mon Christina. It may not be the only reason, but it's got to be part of it. Retirements and deaths jumped to 175,000 in the last survey, up from 25,000 in the last two surveys. This is mentioned in the same document cited in the article, which we have both posted many times.

    And what is the current shortage? About 150,000 nurses. Funny how retirements jumped by that same amount in the last survey.

    If the average age of the labor pool increases by 20 years, certainly retirements have something to do with it. And high nursing school failure rates have certainly helped keep younger people out of the profession too.

    I don't disagree with the points you make. But I don't think you can cite any one reason for the shortage, and dismiss all of these other factors. I think there are many reasons for the shortage.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Sep 13, '04
  7. by   Hellllllo Nurse

    I said that I believe that too many pts per nurse is the main factor behind the "shortage", I did not say it was the only factor.

    All of the baby boomers are getting older, and starting to retire, not just nurses-
    Then why isn't there a shortage in every field that is made up of mostly boomers?

    I do think the aging of nurses plays a part in the so-called "shortage" but I think that part is much smaller than is generally believed.
  8. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    If you think the shortage is mainly due to nurses getting older, please read this excellent article posted on another thrtead by jt.

    MDs find out about Nursing Shortage......


    Excellent article. The American Medical Association tells its members the true story....

    American Medical Association
    HEALTH & SCIENCE http://www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/am...01/hlsa0618.htm

    Where's the nurse? Staffs stretched too thin
    As nursing shortages reach crisis proportions, both physicians and patients suffer the scarcity. Who will answer the call? The solution won't be easy.
    By Stephanie Stapleton, AMNews staff. June 18, 2001.

    "I have spent many afternoons with nurses crying on my shoulder, only to have them leave the next day. My day takes twice as long, without enough nurses to cover the procedures that a tech can't do. The nurses are so tired and overworked, you can see it in their bodies, their eyes, their attitude. It makes working at the hospital a dread." -- Katrina Miller, MD

    These words are from a second-year family medicine resident at the University of California, Los Angeles. But her experiences are not uncommon.

    Physicians are increasingly feeling the strain of hospital nursing staffs that are stretched too thin.

    Although the nursing work force has always been cyclical -- reflecting ebbs and flows in the economy and the needs of the health care delivery system -- the present circumstance is considered by many to be different.

    "On one hand, the current situation is a typical nursing shortage in that there are not enough nurses to fill all the positions out there," said Patricia Underwood, RN, PhD, first vice president of the American Nurses Assn. But this particular one is also more intense than those in the past, she said.

    For starters, trends indicate that growing numbers of licensed registered nurses are opting not to work in the profession. About 494,000 RNs did not use their licenses last year. This number increased from 443,000 in 1996 and 387,000 in 1992, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. In addition, the average age of those who stay is getting older.

    494,000 licensed RNs did not work as nurses in the year 2000.

    The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study June 14, 2000, predicting that, because of the impending retirement of the largest age cohort of nurses -- those currently in their 50s and 60s -- the work force will be nearly 20% below projected needs by 2020.

    Meanwhile, the number of new nurses entering training programs and the nursing field is getting smaller. These factors are converging just as hospital patients are typically getting sicker and need more care. The combined effect could create a crisis as baby boomers age. But already, the shortage's impact is being felt, especially at hospitals.

    The nursing shortage is quite real here. In our town we need 21 RNs to staff our 37-bed hospital, day and night, year-round. We only have 11. Registry nurses, at exactly twice the going salary, make up seven more. We are still three short. We experience L & D closures and total admission closures more than once a week.
    -- Ken Ogilvie, MD, an Arizona-based ob-gyn

    These kinds of staffing difficulties are increasingly prevalent across the country.

    "It's a constant struggle," said Lawrence Schecter, MD, medical director of Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. He views the problem from two perspectives -- as an administrator and as a general surgeon. In his own facility, nurse staffing levels are a constant question. "Every night I go to our nursing office and ask how we are for tomorrow," he said.

    A key factor contributing to the shortfall is that hospitals and other acute care facilities have in the past decade faced reduced reimbursement rates and pressure from managed care companies. This has led to cuts in operating budgets. Because nurse salaries represent, on average, about 20% of such costs, they have been high on the list of targets.

    "There is cutting the fat and then there is cutting the bone and muscle," said Todd Taylor, MD, the Arizona College of Emergency Physicians' vice president for public affairs. "Nurses are the bone and muscle. When they are cut, the hospital is starting to implode."

    At 20% of hospitals' operating budgets, nurses salaries have been targeted as a cost-cutting measure.

    The number of patients assigned to nurses, for instance, is on the rise. Nurses report sometimes having to care for 10 or more medical or post-surgical patients during a day shift. And, while patient care responsibilities are intensifying, shifts are getting longer. In addition, mandatory overtime has become common to fill staffing gaps. The work is hard and physical. The paperwork burden continues to grow. The result: Burnout is prevalent and turnover is at record highs.

    "Nurses work hard and get beaten up badly. It's probably why so many leave," said UCLA's Dr. Schecter.
    There is also more and more awareness about the risks involved in hospital work -- from needle sticks to ergonomic challenges, Dr. Underwood explained. Concerns about threats from patients and patient families are also becoming more common. "Right now, a lot of things happen that call safety and quality into question," she said.

    But even as many nurses opt to leave their full-time hospital posts, the facilities have to have adequate staff. As a result, they turn to what some physicians say is a burgeoning industry -- agency or registry nurses.

    In our medicine/surgical ICU we have only a bare skeleton of staff nurses with experience. For an 18-bed unit we have seven full-time nurses. The rest are "agency nurses." This has affected the quality of care, and the morale is so low. The agency nurses are part-timers of marginal quality who make more money than do the full-time nurses, because the agency can get more money. They in essence hold the hospital hostage. At the present we are limping along, but I don't know how this will be resolved in the long run.
    -- Richard Hoefer, DO, a surgical oncologist in Newport News, Va.

    Nurse staffing agencies allow their nurses to function as free agents -- sending them out to staff health care facilities on an as-needed basis while giving them more control over their schedules and, often, more money.

    "I've seen the entire emergency staff evaporate," Dr. Taylor said. "About a half of ED nurses on a regular basis are some type of traveler." Of the 12 nurses who work in his hospital's emergency department, only the three supervisory positions are filled by regular staff at times.

    "It is disheartening. It causes despair," he said. "You don't have the core group. Just rent-a-nurse." Even though these temporary staffers may be clinically competent, they often don't know hospital policies or procedures. "They don't even know where the bathrooms are," he added. "It's not efficient."

    George M. Boyer, MD, chair of the medical staff quality committee at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center, said that like most, his hospital "absolutely" suffers from chronic staffing problems.

    "For our own institution, it is not causing a crisis in actual care, but it is getting close nationwide," said Dr. Boyer, also an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. "There is no quick answer."

    Many times, for instance, when facilities are on red or yellow alert, it is not because all the beds are full, he said. It is because all the beds that can be staffed are full.

    I work in an emergency department where, on occasion, we have to hold patients until an inpatient bed becomes available, sometimes the next day. I've had up to half my ED beds filled with inpatients. This greatly slows down the ED care and ties up my ED nurses with floor duties. I know that the patients are uncomfortable spending hours lying on ED cots, in addition to not being the ideal place to recover. I know that this situation is not unique to our hospital.
    -- A physician who opted not to provide his or her name

    Dr. Taylor said the effects felt in emergency departments might be among the most visible. When the hospital is unable to staff surgical and other beds, the ED picks up the slack, he said. "We've been down to one-third capacity because we're holding hospital patients in the emergency department."

    But the pressures are evident throughout facilities.

    "There are times when we have scheduled procedure -- we have the rooms and the necessary equipment available," said Dr. Boyer, who practices pulmonary and critical care medicine. "But we have no nurses to staff them."

    And in the end, it becomes an issue of quality. "There may be space at hospitals, but if you don't have a nurse, who is going to take care of you?" asked Dr. Taylor. "We've reached a point where families need to sit with the patients to make sure things are taken care of."

    This kind of realization has added a new imperative to efforts to address the current shortage in a way that will prepare the health care system for the even greater demands of patient care in the future.

    According to Pam Thompson, RN, executive director of the American Organization for Nurse Executives, the shortage should be framed as a larger systemic issue because of the complexities it involves. If a resolution is to be reached, it will require change at multiple levels -- including nursing education, the work environment, regulations, laws, and financing. "There is no single bullet, not one simple thing we can do to fix this," Thompson said.

    Legislative proposals to create scholarships to attract more young people to nursing, for example, will not correct the problem without increased financing for nurse training programs and investments to maintain an adequate supply of nurse faculty.

    Finally, many agree that -- even with higher pay and more incentives -- the WORK ENVIRONMENT MUST CHANGE if nurses are to be recruited and retained. Ample data show that a big factor in retention of nurses is the interaction with physicians, Thompson said. "If it is good, nurses stay and patient outcomes are better."

    "I'd love to tell you that it wasn't true, but it seems that nurses' treatment by physicians is always on the list of reasons for nurse dissatisfaction," Dr. Boyer agreed.

    "Some [doctors] are hard to work with, but hopefully, as a group, we're not all difficult," he added. "Physicians have to learn to work as part of a team. The days in which a doctor would walk into a room and the nurse would stand up to give him her chair are over."


    Causes for concern:
    The number of nurses leaving the profession, the graying of those now in the field and the dwindling number in training fuel concerns about a shortage.

    In 1980, 52.9% of RNs were younger than 40; by 2000, only 31.7% were under 40.
    The U.S. population increased 13.7% between 1990 and 2000. The rate of nurses entering the work force increased just 4.1% between 1996 and 2000, down from 14.2% between 1992 and 1996.
    There are nearly 2.7 million RNs in the United States. More than 18% do not work in nursing.
    In a recent American Nurses Assn. survey, 75% said they feel the quality of nursing has declined during the past two years.
    Forty percent said they would not feel comfortable having a family member cared for where they work.
    Source: American Nurses Assn.; Health Resources and Services Administration's 2000 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, February

    Pressure points:
    The following forces are factors in burnout, job dissatisfaction and the growing nurse shortage:
    The burden of care for nurses, patients and families has increased since 1990.
    Pressures on families are particularly severe when patients are sent home after a brief stay or have received outpatient care for problems that were formerly dealt with in hospitals by nurses.
    There is evidence that nurses and families are very concerned about the erosion of care and are fearful about hospital safety.
    Nurses report increasing dissatisfaction with their work in hospitals that have cut staff, require frequent overtime and replace nurses with assistants.
    Source: "When Care Becomes a Burden: Diminishing Access to Adequate Nursing," Milbank Memorial Fund

    Global problem:
    A survey published in the May/June issue of Health Affairs contacted nurses in five countries: the United States, Canada, England, Scotland and Germany. It explores nurses' attitudes about their jobs and the state of hospital care.

    Job dissatisfaction, burnout, and intent to leave:
    In the United States, 41% of hospital nurses reported job dissatisfaction
    . Except for Germany, nurses in the other countries expressed dissatisfaction at rates between 30% and 40%.
    More than two in 10 American nurses and 33% or those younger than 30 plan to leave their jobs in the next two years.

    Work climate in hospitals:
    More than one-third of nurses surveyed reported that there are enough registered nurses to provide high-quality care. (I guess that means that 2/3 answered that there are not enough RNs....)Among American nurses, 82% reported an increase in the number of patients assigned to them in the past year.
    Fewer than half overall reported that management was responsive to concerns. Quality of care:
    In the United States and Canada, only about one-third of nurses surveyed were confident that their patients were adequately prepared to manage at home after discharge.
    Nearly half of American (44.8%) and Canadian (44.6%) nurses said the quality of patient care in their institutions had deteriorated in the past year. This deterioration was less commonly reported in European countries.
    Source: Health Affairs, May/June

    Milbank Memorial Fund Milbank Memorial Fund report, "When Care Becomes a Burden: Diminishing Access to Adequate Nursing" (http://www.milbank.org/010216fagin.html)

    Health Affairs article, "Nurses' Reports on Hospital Care in Five Countries," May/June (vol. 20, number 3) (http://www.healthaffairs.org/archives_library.htm)

    Bureau of Health Professions, to obtain the 2000 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, preliminary findings, February (http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/)

    JAMA abstract, "Implications of an Aging Registered Nurse Workforce," June 14, 2000 (vol. 283, number 22) (http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues/v283.../joc91904.html)

    The email address of the AMA reporter of this article can be found at http://www.ama-assn.org/public/jour...ws/amnstaff.htm
    American Medical News Staff List.
  9. by   Sheri257
    Quote from Hellllllo Nurse
    All of the baby boomers are getting older, and starting to retire, not just nurses- Then why isn't there a shortage in every field that is made up of mostly boomers?
    The reason is simple. An older population demands health care six times more than a younger population. As you get older, you need a lot more health care services and, consequently, nurses.

    You may need only one accountant (just as an example) in your lifetime. And, during most of your lifetime, you may not even need a nurse. But once you hit 65 (the largest growing segment of the population thanks to the baby boom generation) you're probably going to need a nurse ... and you may need a lot of nurses a lot of the time.

    The demand side of the baby boom equation is also driving the nursing shortage, and will continue to do so. Aging baby boomers are going to need nurses a lot more than they'll need accountants.

    Again, I don't really disagree with what you are saying. Just that there are many factors involved, not just lousy working conditions.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Sep 13, '04
  10. by   Mermaid4
    My goodness. Another embryo nurse who thinks they know it all....Not meant to be mean spirited and you raise some interesting points BUT some of us love working in hospitals....Hospitals like to make money and don't want to spend that money on mere nurses...Nursing, in an attempt to raise the "respect" insisted on trying to upgrade nursing by making degrees if not mandatory at least THE thing to do. I have no problem with that, but when you take people like yourself who haven't really been in the trenches of what some of us call true nursing, then you get people who aren't willing ( and rightfully so) to settle for the ways nurses are generally treated. I think that requirement may have largely backfired on nursing in some respects.
    Nurses are not to blame for the conditions they find themselves in. Those of us who are still in it are in it because we love being nurses. Big business doesn't want to adequately compensate skilled nurses and feels they can save money by making conditions nurses work under ( and patients potentially suffer under), bare bones at best...Yet, in an ever increasing ironic twist, they create the problems they have....Of course there are other issues, but the irony is, healthcare could not adequately function without nurses...You can be forgiven for your idealism as you only recently got started and really have no idea beyond student nursing , what nursing is really like in the trenches vs the office environment, which these days is no piece of cake either.
    I guess those of us who love nursing and have to continue to take the adverse conditions for the sake of our families and bring in the income are to blame minimally because we continue to show up to work and do the best we can under appalling conditions, which are always fine with management and the upper echelon UNTIL their families come in to be treated. THEN it is an entirely different story....THEN they become concerned and horrified....I treat everyone equally and am not impressed if a so called VIP ends up on my unit..He or she gets treatment to the best of my ability and skill who EVER he or she is related to..And, the families don't necessarily like that I may have seven or more other patients. I don't lose sleep over that......Welcome to nursing.....Enjoy!
  11. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    As a person gets older and needs more health care, they will also need more doctors, more specialists. They will need more labs drawn, need more phlebotomists, lab techs, pharmacists, X-ray techs, physical therapists, medical billing people, and on and on.

    Explain why there are no "shortages" in these fields?
  12. by   altomga
    [ Like I said am a new nurse that graduated with my BSN and also with a Business degree. So I am keen to pick up on why things do not work. ]

    Excuse my rudeness, (and not that I want to get flamed) but you said it yourself...YOU are still fairly a new nurse and whether or not you have a Business degree or not will not give you greater insight into the problems that all of us nurses are experiencing. Nurses leave the profession for so many varied reasons...and then some that are related...Do YOU really think it helps "us" experienced nurses to know that YOU new grads are almost making the same as We are? :angryfire And only after a couple of years on your behalf and those same years added onto ours that YOU WILL be making more than US? Unsafe working conditions in relation to pt load, managers that sit on their A$$ instead of helping their staff fix the unit problems, normally..absolutely no appreciation from your facility or "boss" for your hard work, pulling extra shifts, more and more responsibilities being put on the nurse because of cost containment (ie: cutting back on ancillary staff). Now I won't disagree that there are some backstabbing nurses (there ARE), but those type of people are everywhere..it isn't centralized to nursing. AND I have seen plenty of BACKSTABBING PHYSICIANS! They can be really awful. The "bad" instructors in school that I had in the end taught me valuable lessons! It is all in the attitude of how you deal with it. Why do I stay where I am??? Because if I left that would be admitting defeat and allowing them to win. I want to make a difference and try to help work out the things that are wrong. I love what I DO also! Educate yourself with your hospital policy and use them to your advantage. The upper crust tend to forget that we CAN READ! Throw a hospital written policy in their face and they will shut up real quick Know your BON by-laws..they will help you also. Don't be afraid to speak up for what is right.
    Nurses that eat their young...well..yes some do, but on the other hand a preceptor sometimes has to be tough in order to ensure that the new nurse will be competent on their own...I want to make sure that the person will be able to intervene in a patient situation and/or know their resources..you won't always have someone there to bail you out.
    I apologize for my rudeness..I do get somewhat offensive when newbies try to come in and tell us OLDIES what our problem is. Experience here does have the upper hand only in that we have been dealing with it much longer. And that is not to say a fresh perspective doesn't help, just be constructive with it!
  13. by   kea6783
    Your concern for the nurse shortage is admirable, but I think you have fairly unrealistic expectations. You are fed up with the tension between nurses so you go into Medicine!? Maybe when you're a "fairly new doctor" you'll feel the same way.

    Also, maybe a little research into your former employer would have given you a little insight on their attitudes towards teaching. Perhaps talking to someone who worked there would have also been beneficial. I would never accept a job without researching the atmosphere of the facility if I was at all uncomfortable with possibly recieving attitude or disrespect from other nurses.

    In short, I hope you don't expect to get nothing but encouragement and support from fellow doctors.

    Good luck.