The nursing shortage is an important health care issue that significantly impacts nursing today. Research the key points of the issue and summarize the major concerns. Then, suggest a solution(s)...

The nursing shortage is an important health care issue that significantly impacts nursing today. Research the key points of the issue and summarize the major concerns. Then, suggest a solution(s) on how professional nurses can make a difference to improve this issue.


Expert Answers
kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The causes of the current and, especially, projected shortages in trained, qualified nurses are many.  The demographics of the United States present one such challenge.  As the so-called “baby boomer” generation reaches retirement age, the burden on the nation’s health care infrastructure is expected to be enormous, with shortages not just of nurses but of primary care physicians and some medical specialties.  Another factor in the looming shortage of nurses involves the capacity of the nation’s educational system to absorb more nursing students.  The country's nursing population, consistent with demographics for the nation as a whole, is aging with inadequate nursing students in the pipeline.  Nursing schools are already experiencing a shortage of qualified faculty, and are not producing nurses in sufficient numbers to address the coming surge in the nation’s population of elderly.  Nursing shortages, as is common among high-pressure professions, are creating a “vicious cycle” in which the strain on over-worked nurses is causing many to leave the profession, further exacerbating the shortage.  Even with increased educational capacity, the ability of the health care system to absorb the huge numbers of Americans heading into retirement, with the multitude of medical problems that naturally accompany the aging process, is highly questionable. 

In addition to the demographic issue that will be the single largest obstacle, the movement in the United States towards a more equitable health care system in which millions more Americans will be able to avail themselves of proper medical care will place an added burden on a nursing population already stretched painfully thin.  The number of Americans being added to health insurance rolls, combined with the difficulties local health care systems will experience serving the burgeoning population of economically destitute immigrants – an already serious problem in states like Arizona and Texas – ensures that the nursing shortage will seriously impact much of the nation in the years ahead. 

Addressing the problem of a nursing shortage will require certain measures.  Chief among these measures are efforts at expanding the capacity of nursing schools to absorb more students, which will require an expansion in the pool of qualified instructors – a step that cannot happen overnight given the years of experience and breadth of knowledge needed to provide such faculty.  There is no identified shortage of individuals interested in pursuing a career in nursing, but the requisite infrastructure must exist to accommodate them.  Addressing the “vicious cycle” in which overworked, underpaid nurses grow tired and frustrated and leave the profession, further exacerbating the shortage, is closely tied to the issue of educational capacity to train more nurses.  Recruiting retired or experienced former nurses to train as nursing instructors is hardly a novel idea, but the funding necessary to provide teaching certification to these individuals has to come from somewhere, which usually means the government, which means tax dollars during an era when federal budget deficits are already astronomically high.  Professional nurse can help to improve the problem of the growing shortage, however, by taking steps to attain teaching certification so that they can transition into the academic arena.

user396107 | Student

Your absolutely right there is a shortage in the nursing sector. I believe this is do to a perception by the community that being a nurse is not socially accepted. Many people perceive nurses as not hard working or even nursing a job. This has caused a lack of nurses in the community.