How would one write a problem statement for nursing shortage?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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A problem statement is the most important element in either a research proposal or a feasibility report. As phrased by Penn State University, a problem statement will be composed of three parts or sentences depending on your exact assignment: "1) the ideal, 2) the reality, and 3) the consequences for the reader" should the issue continue to go unaddressed.

Studies are definitely showing that a nursing shortage is an expected problem in that the numbered of licensed nurses is beginning to fall short of demand. However, we would want to narrow down the focus of our problem statement by addressing at least one possible reason for the shortage, a reason you can examine and develop further.

Nurses report that one of the main reasons for high turnover rates among nurses is "workload/staffing"; in other words, nurses feel they have an excessive workload that is being aggravated by staffing problems, particularly low numbers of nurses, inexperienced managers, and other inexperienced staffers. Excessive workloads are reported as being a result of high nurse-patient ratios; in other words, nurses are being assigned to care for too many patients, resulting in an increase of patient deaths by 7%. Many factors contribute to the increase in nurse-patient ratios, including an increase in surgical patients, higher infection rates, and an increase in readmission rates. Many solutions can be proposed, but one possible solution is a state-ordered minimum nurse-patient ratio.

In the above scenario, the ideal for our problem statement would be a minimum nurse-patient ratio; the reality would be the fact that there is a high nurse turnover rate due to nurses being overworked; the consequences of not addressing the current excessive nurse-patient ratio would be a continued loss of working registered nurses and a continued nursing shortage, resulting in even higher nurse-patient ratios and even more patient deaths.

So, if were to turn the above details into a problem statement consisting of three parts or three sentences, we might yield something like the following:

Part/Sentence 1: In order to prevent a nurse shortage as well as improve the quality of patient care, issues leading to high nurse turnover rate must be addressed.

Part/Sentence 2: Currently, nurses report leaving their position due to being overworked, and their heavy workload is due to an excessively high nurse-patient ratio; high nurse-patient ratios have also been shown to increase the rate of patient deaths.

Part/Sentence 3: To correct the issue of excessive workload, states must mandate minimum nurse-patient ratios or else risk the continuation of a nursing shortage and a further increase of patient deaths.

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