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Scarce Resources: The Nursing Shortage Essay

It is a widely known fact that the United States is facing a critical shortage of Registered Nurses (RN’s), and that over the next several years the need for nurses is going to increase significantly due to the ageing baby boomer generation. It is expected that by 2020 the United States will face a shortage of over one million nurses (Buerhaus, Auerback, & Staiger, 2009) and this fact has drawn a great deal of public attention; however, there is also a growing shortage of nurse educators which must be addressed. This paper will discuss the article “The Nursing Shortage Continues as Faculty Shortage Grows,” how the faculty shortage will effect patient care, and propose possible solutions to the shortage.

Over the last several years the nursing shortage has become common knowledge and as a result a great deal of effort has been put into recruiting new student nurses. While the recruiting efforts have increased the enrollment of student nurses by over 53% between the years between 2000 and 2005 (Fang, Wilsey-Wisniewski, & Bednash, 2006), the enrollment numbers must increase dramatically more if the nursing shortage is going to be eliminated. The problem is not a result of too few qualified nursing school applicants, nursing schools simply are not equipped to meet the increased demand. According to Fang et al. (2006), 74% of nursing schools denied students for enrollment because they did not have an adequate number of faculty members.

There are many reasons why there is a lack of nursing educators. The first is the average age of nurse educators, which is 51, and the fact that they are expected to retire more rapidly than they will be able to be replaced (Tanner, 2006). To some nurses the largest factor for not pursuing a career as a nurse educator is the extreme disparity in salary compared to other areas of nursing. Factorig the cost of obtaining an advanced degree with the lower income of nurse educators it makes little sense financially for nurses to work as an educator. To remedy this situation Allen (2008) simply suggests that nursing schools need increase the salaries of nurse educators to match, or at least be competitive with the salaries of practicing nurses. Another factor that affects the number of nurse educators is job satisfaction, most likely because nurses are accustom to helping the sick and often times saving lives and teaching in a classroom is dull in comparison.

Additional factors that affect low numbers of nurses entering academia include: the relatively low percentage of RN’s who have advanced degrees, older nurses who are more likely to enter field are now required to be familiar with and utilize new technology which they may dislike, and nursing schools often expect nurse educators to conduct research (Allen, 2008). If nurses, colleges, and the government don’t work together to make teaching more appealing to nurses the consequences could be dire. Without enough educators the projected nursing shortage could be even worse than expected, which would ultimately lead to poor patient care.

It is common sense, if the nurse to patient ratio gets too high patient care declines, the general public must be made aware that at some point a drastic nursing shortage could someday mean the difference between life and death for them or their family members. The government must provide more funds to nursing schools in order to increase the salary of their nursing faculty and devise ways to further incentivize working as a nurse educator. Perhaps encouraging more advanced practice nurses to teach on a part time basis would help the shortage, with this option nurses would still be able to practice and benefit from government programs such as loan forgiveness.

The main focus of Allen’s article, “The Nursing Shortage Continues as Faculty Shortage Grows” is to shine a light on the nursing faculty shortage. The general public has known for years that there is a shortage of nurses, and nursing school applications have risen accordingly. Without increasing the number of nurse educators it will be impossible to produce enough new nurses to meet the shortage and the health care of the public will suffer as a result.

References

Allen, L. (2008). The nursing shortage continues as faculty shortage grows. Nursing Economics,26(1), 35-40. Buerhaus, P., AuerBack, D., & Staiger,
D. (2009). The recent surge in nurse employment:Causes and Implications. Health Affairs, 28, 657-688. Fang, D., Wilsey-Wisniewski, S.J., & Bednash, G.D. (2006). 2005-2006 enrollment andgraduations in baccalaureate and graduate programs in nursing. Washington, DC:American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Tanner, CA. (2006). Changing times, evolving issues: The faculty shortage acceleratedprograms, and stimulation. Journal of Nursing Education, 45(3), 99-100.


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