Nursing Shortage In America

This paper examines the issue of nursing shortage in the light of the report published by the American Association Of  Colleges of Nursing on the subject . This report examines the issue in detail citing various reasons and issues concerning the problem . A brief overview of the report and further supportive facts are as under :

Issue of Nursing Shortage: Ever since Florence Nightingale revolutionized nursing practices, nursing has been playing a pivotal role in the delivery of health care. This has been due to the ever increasing demand made upon the health profession in all stages of its delivery. With increasing population and the plethora of diseases to combat, hospitals around the world are facing a lot of problems, nursing shortage being one of them.

According to a report published by the American Association of colleges of nursing it has been cited that recent researches have pointed out that an acute shortage of nurses is being observed in the different states across America. It is projected that by the year 2024 the shortage would increase by 340,000 as compared to the current shortage of 118,000 nurses. The reasons for this shortage are the short term policies which have been formulated in this respect (AACN, 2007).

Influencing Factors : Though a lot of factors are contributing towards the shortage of nurses , however the five main areas which need special emphasis in this regard include:

1)      Training

2)      Poor job environment

3)      Increased patient turnover

4)      High nurse turnover and vacancy rates

5)      Slow rate of growth of nurses

A lot of attention has been given to producing medical doctors, very less attention has been given to the training of nurses. The other reasons cited in the report are the poor job environment, increased burden of patients, lower turnout. These factors are constantly challenging the health professionals. This is having an adverse impact on patient care. With the time slot available for each patient the level of nursing care has decreased a lot since the past few years. The increased frequency of errors being reported is also a result of these shortages.

Other Studies: Besides the fact sheet which has been prepared by the American Association of colleges of nursing , a lot of studies have been carried out on this subject. Due to paucity of space a few of them are being presented for review: In an article published in readers digest in 2003, by John Prekannan has very rightly pointed out that if significant attention is not paid to the currently dwindling nursing population might adversely affect patient care.

The increasing family pressure on nurses and their failure to tend to every case was cited as among the reason for a higher mortality rate. Another important point which has been made is the aloof attitude the patients experience from the nurses involved in their care. As compared to yester years when patients were received warmly by the nursing staff the present day health care is a constant reminder of the toll inadequate staffing may take on the already overburdened nurses (John Prekannan, 2003).

In another research project which has taken a look over the reasons for this shortage has brought four main points in the lime light viz ageing workforce, declining enrolment, changing work climate and poor image of nursing (Goodin 2003). The answer to all these problems lies in formulating policies to combat this dearth of nursing professionals. Adequate resourcing and financing is the key when it comes to training programs. The grants which are being offered for the revival of nursing industry are not the only means of a revival but to change and bring about a powerful image of the nurses and to glamorize the profession is the key (Chandra , 2005)  .

Solution : The focus needs to change from producing just doctors to the production of quality nurses so that the new trends and advancements which are taking place every now and then in the medical filed can be put into practical use by the sufficiently qualified nursing staff. Nursing programmes should be devised so that nurses may have a chance to develop and groom themselves according to the needs of the modern society.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Nursing Shortage Fact Sheet, Published 2007

John Pekkanen, Nursing shortage is America’s biggest health care crises, Article published in Reders Digest, September 2003

Janiszewski Goodin HGoodin , The Nursing Shortage in The United States Of America-an integrative review of literature, Published din Journal of advanced nursing, Volume 43 , Number 4 , August 2003.

Chandra, Ashish, Willis, William K Importing Nurses: Combating the nursing shortage in America Copy right 2005 Heldref Publications


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