Causes of Nurse Shortage
It takes only one hour for a member of the recruiting staff at Lakeshore General Hospital to get back to an applicant upon submitting an application seeking a nursing post in this North American Hospital (Gyulai, 2011). Empirically, the insatiable nurse shortage facing America, and the world at large that has apparently proved difficult to counter. Nurses, just like doctors, are of much importance in a hospital, therefore, their numbers in count with regards to healthcare. This profound deficit of nurses is attributed to increase demand for nurses while there is a reduction in the supply of nurses (Feldman, 2003). This paper aims at discussing the causes of nurse shortage, specifically the factors that contribute to the increased demand but reduced supply of nurses, with reference to Lakeshore General Hospital in Quebec, North America. Lynne McVey, an associate professor at McGill and director of nursing at Jewish General Hospital, attest that the number of nursing positions to be filled keep on increasing year by year (as cited in Gyulai, 2011).
Firstly, the decrease in the supply of nurses can be associated with the reduction in enrolment of students pursuing nursing in the universities and colleges (Andrist, Nicholas, & Wolf, 2006). Gyulai (2011) writes that the number of the number of enrollments in General and Vocational College diplomas and university programs has risen by 34% over the last five years although the shortage of nurses is expected to decline further in 2011/2012 academic year (Gyulai, 2011). The decline in enrolment of nurses is due to the ‘outdated perceptions’ about the nursing profession and increase employment opportunities for women (Feldman, 2003; Andrist, Nicholas, & Wolf, 2006)). Besides, universities and colleges training nurses do not have the capacity to train nurses as fast as possible to meet this high demand, a demand that rises by the day. Again, many school counselors do not recommend males and females to pursue nursing as a career subject.
Secondly, another leading cause of the nursing shortage is the aging population, particularly the nurse population. Reportedly, the average age of nurses in US is about 44 years (Gyulai, 2011; Andrist, Nicholas, & Wolf, 2006)). Nurses in their fifties (approaching retirement) outnumber nurses in their thirties and under (Gyulai, 2011). In Quebec, for example, the number of registered nurses (RNs) under the age of 30, according to a survey, was found to be slightly above 11000 compared to 60000 plus nurses above this age. Since 1991, as sour the number of nurses under the age of thirty has declined by a percentage of over 40%. Moreover, the number of elderly people is constantly on the increase. These are the people who are prone to illness due to the increase in life expectancy, who undoubtedly experience the grim effects of nurse shortage. In addition, many people find it difficult to pay for medical insurance, which makes it a routine for them to visit the emergency rooms in a hospital frequently. This imbalance is expected to widen in the coming years if nothing is done fast to reverse the situation.
Public hospitals like Lakeshore General Hospital seem to be the worst hit by the ongoing nurse shortage. As Gyulai (2011) asserts, a nurse in a public hospital earns $21 per hour compared to the $40 per hour earned by a nurse in a private hospital. The increase in the $21/hr that a public nurse earns does not seem to rise. In regards to Lambert of Lakeshore General hospital who alleges that she used to earn $15 per hour as an entry salary thirty years ago, the rate of nurse pay rise is disheartening, which can also be the reason as to why many people shy form this profession (Gyulai, 2011).
According to AACN (2004), the profession is characterized by dissatisfaction of nurses which professionals call ‘nurse burnout’ (as cited in Andrist, Nicholas, & Wolf, 2006). As a result, many people shy away from this profession opting for other professions that they deem to be better than nursing. In a nutshell, there calls for a need of an expedient solution to this shortage if at all health care has to be enhance. This can be done through; sponsoring pursuing nursing, reducing the tax burden of nurse, writing off government loan to nursing student, improving the working condition of nurses, among others. The overarching idea in the above listed endeavors is creating a positive image of the nursing profession.
Andrist, L. C., Nicholas P. K., Wolf, K. (2006). A History of Nursing Ideas. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Feldman, H.R. (2003). The Nursing Shortage: Strategies for Recruitment and Retention in Clinical Practice and Education. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, Inc.
Gyulai, L. (2011, January 22). Nurses wanted – stat! Montreal Gazette. Retrieved from:http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/youthzone/Nurses+wanted+stat/4147166/story.html