Nursing Shortage

Nurses General Nursing

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Specializes in Nursing student.

What does a career in nursing look like during a nursing shortage?

Hi, My name is Maddie and I am a CNA and entering my first year of nursing school in the fall. I would like to ask some questions to get a more well rounded view of what a career in nursing looks like. In recent years, there has been an extreme shortage of Nurses in the United States. The lack of nurses affects many aspects of the healthcare and hospital setting. Some instances of this include; work environment, quality of patient care, job quality, and the functionality of the hospital. This is a pressing issue that affects everyone and should be acknowledged more in school settings. I believe that bringing awareness to this topic will help improve the nurses work environment and educate people on how essential nurses really are.  Nurses are a critical part of the healthcare system and happen to make up the largest section of the health profession. The causes of the nursing shortage are numerous. The American Nurses Association predicts that more then 275,000 additional nurses will be needed from 2020-2030. The need for nurses is  significant and there should be more action taken to educate on the urgency of this situation. 

My goal is to gather some personal opinions on these questions so that I can help students understand what a career in nursing truly looks like.

These are some questions I have...

What is the biggest challenge that comes with being a nurse during a staffing shortage?

How does the lack of nurses affect your work environment?

How does the nursing shortage effect your personal life?

How do you think patient care is affected by the shortage?

Do you believe that the quality of patient care differs when theres a staffing issue?

How has covid affected the nursing shortage?

Do you think the public is aware of how bad the nursing shortage really is? 

What are some changes that could be made to combat the shortage?

Have you ever experienced burnout because of the staffing issues in hospitals?

What advice would you give to nursing students who will soon be entering this career field?

Thank you in advance for any input you have on the matter ?

So, why don't you share with us what you think about the issue and what you've gleaned from your research?

Specializes in Nursing student.

I personally believe covid has had a huge affect on the nursing shortage. Covid has not only increased the rate of burnout and the turnover rates for nurses, but has also affected patient care and the overall functionality of a hospital. As you probably know, nurses are the glue of the hospital and when there is a shortage, they are consistently overworked and under appreciated. This is just what I have gathered from my personal research, but it would be nice to hear from nurses who have worked during covid to get a better perspective on the topic. 

Specializes in Nursing student.

I could show you the many pages of notes and projects I have on this topic, but the goal of this was really to gather other peoples opinions rather then just the statistics I already know. 

Thank you for expanding on this. You need to understand that we very frequently have new posters who are students who post questions as you did that are clearly homework questions. The fact that you posted no less than 10 separate and very specific questions on the same topic in 10 separate posts gave the appearance that you were doing just that. The members here do not take kindly to this and it always ends poorly for the OP. 

FTR, a better way to get your questions answered would be to introduce yourself, explain why you are asking the question and make the question more global and do this in one post. 

Specializes in Nursing student.

Thank you, I appreciate your feedback. I'm new to this website so I didn't really know how the process went. 

From my perspective the pandemic did not cause a nursing shortage it merely removed the smoke and mirrors that hospital administrators have been using to hide the fact that they have been cutting back on staffing for years to save money and make their bonuses. The sad thing is there are plenty of licensed nurses out there. The shortage is in nurses willing to take the crap handed to them by management and the public. Combine this with the incessant need for nursing educators to imply that being at bedside is somehow "lesser" than and the only indicator of intelligance and success is to become an NP. 

One of the biggest challenges of working during a nursing shortage is that it is bigger than a nursing shortage alone.

Ancillary staffing is a big issue and it increases the nursing workload. Without a unit secretary, the phone rings and rings, and visitors need to be "buzzed in" to the unit. Without CNAs, we have to beg other overloaded nurses to help us turn and clean large patients, help us move patients to the stretcher and do all of the other tasks that made our patient assignments tolerable. Dietary staff are short, and patients are more likely to get cold meals on the tray (for nurses to reheat). 

Charge nurses are taking a full patient load in ICU. When the patient takes a turn for the worse, we are more alone. 

My personal life has not been affected because I work less than full time as a per diem, but next year I will look for a full time job in non-bedside nursing. 

Quality of care, I think is holding on by a thread. Nurses work hard and standards are high. Unfortunately for nurses, tasks and responsibilities are added and never taken away. Keeping charting/data entry Joint Comission ready means more and more time inputting data that provides data, but removes the nurse from actual patient care since time is a zero-sum game. This issue pre-dates Covid, but the time crunch of covid made things worse. 

Maddie Zakos said:

In recent years, there has been an extreme shortage of Nurses in the United States.

So, right off the bat, this is an interesting issue. Most everyone can attest to the fact that there are underserved areas, underserved populations, long waits for some services, etc. etc. Good hearted (but ignorant) people could easily think that if we only had more nurses (and more providers) we could make these problems disappear. The trick here is that the ones who are constantly crying about severe/extreme nursing shortage are schools and humongous healthcare corporations--and their cries of shortage are driven by other motivations. For schools it gives them a reason to keep pushing out thousands and thousands of new nurses, and for health care/hospital corporations the goal is simply to always have an abundant supply such that they need not bother themselves with retaining any of the nurses they already have. Helps keep costs low and keep their buildings full of people who are less independent.

Make no mistake, there is a "shortage" of bedside nurses because people actually don't enjoy being treated like expendable pieces of crap.

And staffing is the way it is because ultimately it is exactly how that corporation wants it to be.

Maddie Zakos said:

Do you think the public is aware of how bad the nursing shortage really is? 

No, and there are too many nurses who don't know how actually bad it really is, either.

The nursing shortage has been here for 25+ years. The problem was are facing now is the median RN age is mid-50s, and we are retiring thousands each year (or just stepping away from nursing). Covid increased those numbers exponentionally. It has made ones my age (mid-50s) think about early retirement, increasing the shortage even further. I am afraid that this issue will not be resolved. It will only get worse from here, as the number of nurses leaving the workforce is far greater than those coming into the workforce. Add to that the newer nurses want the "prime shifts" -- day hours, no weekends, no holidays. This makes it difficult, as "everyone needs to start somewhere" but management wants to plug holes and allows newer staff to have these positions, instead of checking with current staff. 

Thankfully, I work in a small, critical access rural hospital. While covid has affected us, it is not as great as I have heard in the city.

The shortage makes it much harder to transfer critical patients from my hospital to the city, due to lack of beds = not enough staff for said beds. 

I have heard several nurses talk about burnout. Doesn't matter how long/short they have been in nursing. My advice? Talk one day/a few hours to do absolutely nothing. If that involves you going and getting a mani/pedi or a massage, or just sitting at home in the quiet, do it. I call it my mental health break. It has helped keep me sane after working extra the past 3 years. 

Good luck on your research! Keep us posted on the results. 

Specializes in LTC.
Specializes in Dialysis.

There are plenty of licensed nurses out there. Most just won't put up with the garbage that corporations hand us. Most healthcare entities want 10+ years experience at new grad pay rate, and wonder why everyone isn't jumping to grab it, then complain about new nurses who just don't know how to do what the experienced nurse do?‍♀️

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