The Nursing Shortage & How to Reverse It

The Nursing Shortage & How to Reverse It

Nursing shortage is one of the acute problems in the sphere of modern health care. Nursing shortage is the term, which is generally used to describe the situation, when the demand for nursing professionals exceeds the current supply, either nationally or globally. This could be measured with the help of nurse-to-patient ratio or nurse-to-population ratio. This situation is usually strictly controlled in developed and developing nations of the world. It is important to underline that nursing shortage could not be explained only by the lack of supply of trained nurses. The reasons could vary, for example in some situations such shortages happen simultaneously with increased admission rates for the students into nursing schools. “Potential factors include lack of adequate staffing ratios in hospitals and other health care facilities, lack of placement programs for newly trained nurses, and inadequate worker retention incentives.” (Goulette, 2010). The World Health Organization (WHO) controls the situation with nursing shortage on a global level, and it indicates that there is shortage of 4.3 million nurses and other health human resources professionals in the world. Mostly this could be explained by the underinvestment into training, education, working environment, wages and management. It is utterly difficult just to provide a simple description of the status of the nursing workforce shortage either for the present time or for the future. All the factors and aspects of this problem are many-sided and complex; in addition they are closely interrelated with each other. Thus it is neither possible to point out some independent concrete solutions for the problem of nurses’ shortage, instead there is a need to constantly conduct a systematic and profound enough review of the actual situation in health delivery systems.The Nursing Shortage & How to Reverse It


More and more studies nowadays indicate that there is a high demand for qualified nurses in the United States. “In December of 2014, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) released a report on the future of the nursing workforce.

At that time, 34 states were expected to have a shortage of nurses for a total deficit of 808,000 nurses across the United States by the year 2025. In just three years, those numbers have changed dramatically.” (Blitchok, 2017, p. 3). The creation of the concept of “new nursing” could be explained by the fact that modern nursing shortage is different from the past experiences. The new nursing could be characterized by fewer nurses entering the workforce, by nursing shortages in concrete geographical areas, shortage of nurses, who would be correspondingly prepared to meet concrete areas of patient need in the conditions of rapidly changing health care environment. “As a result, there is a growing realization that the supply of appropriately prepared nurses is inadequate to meet the needs of a diverse population – and that this shortfall will grow more serious over the next 20 years.” (Blitchok, 2017, p. 4). With the aim to encourage the development of nursing personnel with the needed level of skills in health care system, it is possible to take up certain steps for addressing the problem of nursing shortage. First of all adequate attention should be paid to education. Development of career progression initiatives with the aim of moving nursing graduates quicker through graduate studies and identification of the range of the available options could be good strategies. Educational facilities should be more focused upon gaining better understanding of the educational preparation, which is needed for successful performance of various health care roles. Work environment plays a significant role in the frames of nurses’ shortage prevention approaches. Thus introduction of flexible and safe work environment structure along with scheduling programs, rewarding experiences for the nurses and implementation of the corresponding salary and benefit programs could have positive impact upon nursing shortage reduction. In addition nurses should be secured with certain degree of autonomy over their practices and face appropriate management structures at their work places. Taking into consideration the current rapid involvement of innovative technologies into the sphere of medical care, there is a need to thoroughly investigate the potential of using of these technological advances for supporting of workforce planning procedures and development of the models for health workforce planning. It is important to secure the consistent data collection at all levels in order to provide workforce planning for registered nurses.The Nursing Shortage & How to Reverse It

There are certain events, which should be considered in relation to contributing to nursing shortage in America. Some experts assume that the introduction of the Affordable Care Act had negative impact upon the nursing shortage due to increase of the demand on nurses, because more individuals received access to health insurance. “Many nurses are already faced with high patient loads and increasing the number of people that will walk through the door on a daily basis could lead to lower patient satisfaction as nurses find it difficult to meet the needs of multiple patients.” (Blitchok, 2017). Also the situation is worsened by global impact. There are qualified medical personnel representatives, who worked in healthcare in different countries, but they were not able to continue their work, when they moved to the United States. There are some programs currently developed, which aim at helping such individuals to cope with these obstacles and become practicing nurses in America. “However, burnout among nurses is common, and it can lead to staffing issues and high turnover. Hospitals and healthcare facilities can achieve a lot by listening to nurses and evaluating the systems they have in place for their current staff. Less money and time will be spent training and hiring new nurses to fill positions other nurses have evacuated, which will make it easier to retain regular staff and keep nurses happier in their work.” (White, 2018, p. 4).

Considering the potential role of a nurse or healthcare employee in the midst of a nursing shortage crisis, my abilities would be to perform my job functions perfectly and contribute to reevaluation of the role of nurses in the sphere of health care, where I am going to be engaged.

The measures regarding education and work environment were already mentioned above. However, enough attention should be also paid towards safe stuffing legislation especially in the periods of nurse shortage. Effective staffing is a strong strategy to prevent nurse burnout and secure better results in patient care. Realizing these, some of the hospitals have already launched nursing staffing solutions in order to ensure the adequate quantity of nurses even for peak patient times. Such systems could contribute to optimization of the workforce performance and productivity without making the hospitals overspend their labor costs. “A recent Becker’s Hospital Review article noted a nursing shortage is an ongoing obstacle that many hospital executives worry will interfere with patient safety. All of Becker’s top patient safety issues cited in the article revolved around the hospital workforce.” (White, 2018, p. 5) There is a need to take care of the correct balance between adequate communications with patients, their receipt of the needed care and maintaining of safe and positive work environment for health care professionals. Hospitals are to face the challenges, related to the health care reforms, and the situation of nursing shortage could complicate the situation even more.The Nursing Shortage & How to Reverse It


Overall, nursing shortage is one of the acute and serious problems in the sphere of health care in America, as well as in the whole world. Rapidly changing health care environment poses new challenges for the legislators and health care managers, which need to be considered in order to work out the appropriate and effective strategies for preventing and reducing of nurse shortage.


American Organization of Nurse Executives. (2000). “Perspectives on the Nursing Shortage: A Blueprint for Action”. Monograph Series. Washington, DC.

Blitchok, Amy. (2017). What Happened To The Nursing Shortage?

Goulette, C. (2010). “Nursing (Job) Shortage. New Grads are finding the Job Hunt Tough.” Advance for Nurses

Pasqual, Liana. (2016). Safe staffing legislation aims to alleviate nurse shortage

White, Sarah. (2018). The Nursing Shortage Isn’t Due to Lack of Interest. Heath Care The Nursing Shortage & How to Reverse It

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