Term Paper: Nursing Shortage the Foundation

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[. . .] Valerie Gibbons, in her No Easy Remedy for Solving the Nursing Shortage, indicates that the financial problem of educational institutions is the seed of the nursing shortage problem. According to Gibbons, because nursing programs are expensive, many colleges hesitate about expanding their departments (Gibbons, 2003). This results to the very limited capacity of schools in admitting nursing students. From a study conducted by Vanderbilt University, almost 5,000 students do not make it to enter nursing schools every year (Gibbons, 2003).

Part of the problem that exists in colleges and universities is the lack of nursing faculty. This is according to Betty Dickson, executive director of Mississippi Nurses Association (Jeter, 2003). As in the case of the state of Mississippi, where nursing instructors' average age is 52, 25% are near the retirement age. Moreover, there is a lack of nurses who go into teaching because most nurses choose to work in hospitals and clinics where the salary is higher by $15,000 annually.

Another factor that causes the problem of nursing shortage is the declining social value placed on nursing as a career. Nurses are sometimes treated inappropriately, especially the newcomers and interim students. Marsha Hunt Jackson, an interim student affairs coordinator and assistant professor of nursing at Weber State University of Utah, told a story of how her daughter in a nursing school is being treated (Gamero, 2002).

My only daughter is in nursing school

She would come home after clinical [rotations] practically in tears because of the way she was treated.

Some good people really helped her, but about 50% of the time the experiences were quite negative in how she was treated. It is so unnecessary to treat our newcomers this way.

Some nurses won't share their knowledge or even acknowledge that the student nurse exists. Many are good, but it is becoming more of the norm to ignore the student.

The nursing shortage itself plays a huge part in deteriorating the problem, adding up to the growing decline in number of nurses and to the increasing demand for more nurses. Due to lack of nurses, hospitals assign more patients to every nurse. This creates pressure, stress, and job dissatisfaction to nurses, which, consequently, causes them to turn their back from their profession and shift to careers, such as information technology and marketing, where there are better working hours and conditions.

Of the current situations in our educational and health care systems, causing the problem of nursing shortage, governments, colleges and universities, and health institutions, considered several solutions. One of which that involves a collaboration between nursing schools and health institutions is the innovative mentorship program.

Stolovitch and Keeps (Hom, 2003) defines mentoring as is a role that an individual(s) takes on in order to assist someone grow and learn through the transference of expertise"

In Chicago, mentorship programs are used to address the global nursing shortage. This type of program is a 13-month intensive curriculum that focuses on training undergraduates, or those with graduate degrees, to become competitive nurses in the future. This mentorship program is a fast-track program that grants a bachelor's degree in nursing to graduates of the curriculum (Healthcare Custom Wire, 2004). Graduates are also given an automatic admission to a higher-level of nursing degree.

Several instances in hospitals occur where newcomer nurses easily feel of quitting the job. This is due to incidences of being ridiculed by colleagues due to lack of experience, lack of knowledge on new technologies in medical equipments, or sometimes due to pressure of trying to please others. This is one of the problems why there is a nursing shortage. However, being a newcomer does not require the ability of knowing everything in just a split of time. Hence, mentors are essential in looking after the condition of newcomers. Guiding newcomers can prevent them from turning their back to their nursing profession.

The value of mentorship program is that it is a key to recruitment and retention strategy (Jarjoura). When nurses are trained and skilled on their profession, chances are, their productivity and professionalism will be enhanced. Where will this lead them then? Their skills and professionalism can alleviate their individuality within the health care system. Their high potentials can gain them more respect that can lead to job satisfaction. The consequence: they are more likely to stay in their current position (Jarjoura). This then is an advantage that can contribute in solving the nursing shortage problem. In terms of nursing education, mentorship can also increase the number of potential nursing faculties.

Design for Methods/Procedures

This study proposes to use a mixed-method approach. This study finds this approach as a useful method of gathering more data and information to allow precision of results through comparison of information between qualitative approach and quantitative approach.

On the quantitative approach, the study will begin with pragmatic assumptions about the field, which can be determined from available literatures, previous studies and research, and interviews with nurses and healthcare consultants.

On the qualitative approach, essential information and data will be gathered from interviews, surveys, and online surveys across a wide sampling of nurses currently in the field. The survey will include nursing candidates, former nurses who have left the profession, and nurses currently working in the field of healthcare.

Theoretical Perspective

In the U.S., nursing represents the largest health care profession, a total of 2.7 million nurses fulfilling their roles. Despite of this, an increasing need for more nurses that will replace its aging population, as well as to meet the expected medical needs in the future, is a problem being faced nationally and globally. If left unaddressed, this discrepancy between the supply and demand for nurses will eventually result in a massive shortage, and will seriously impact the quality of the U.S. healthcare system.

Theoretically, nursing shortage is caused by both the increasing demand for nurses due to an increasing need for health care, and by the reduction in the number of nursing candidates. In simple terms, an increase in demand takes place while a decrease in supply occurs. Based from the findings of previous literatures, research and studies, several factors negatively affect the reduction in the number of nursing candidates. This includes educational and job factors. Further, the natural occurrence of people to age increases. Thus, there is an increasing need for more health care providers.

The nursing shortage, if remained unresolved may cause a terrible domino effect within the nursing profession, the health care system, and the people's health. As indicated by Margaret Norden, in her article Where Have All the Nurses Gone?: The Impact of the Nursing Shortage on American Healthcare, the nursing shortage leads to drawbacks in the quality of health care service nurses provide. From JCAHO, the following are the theoretical perspectives seen about the present and future status of the nursing shortage problem.

It is estimated that by 2020, there will be at least 400,000 fewer nurses available to provide care than will be needed. -Journal of the American Medical Association

On average, nurses work an extra eight-and-a-half weeks of overtime per year. -Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

The average age of a working registered nurse, 43.3-years-old, is increasing at a rate of more than twice that of all other workforces in this country -Journal of the American Medical Association


Domrose, C. (2002). A Guiding Hand.

Retrieved Jan 23, 2003, from Nurseweek.com.

Web site: http://www.nurseweek.com/news/features/02-02/mentor.asp

Gamero, T. (2002). Marsha Hunt Jackson, on Solving the Nursing Shortage.

Retrieved Jan 23, 2003, from Nurseweek.com.

Web site: http://www.nurseweek.com/5min/jackson.asp

Gibbons, V. (2003). No Easy Remedy for Solving the Nursing Shortage.

Business Journal Issue 323171.

Hom, E.M. (2003). Coaching and Mentoring New Graduates Entering Perinatal Nursing Practice. J Perinat Neonat Nurs 17(1), 35-49

Jarjoura, J. Putting the Spotlight on Practice.

Retrieved Jan 23, 2003, from Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.

Web site: http://www.rnao.org/html/PDF/Practice_Page_Mentorship.pdf

Jeter, L.W. (2003). Where are the Nurses?

Mississippi Business Journal.

Norden, M.K. (2004). Where Have All the Nurses Gone?: The Impact of the Nursing Shortage on American Healthcare. University of Phoenix Library Journal, 129(1).

2003). Enrollment Surge at Nursing Schools This Year; Increase Not Enough to Reverse the Nursing Shortage. Community CustomWire.

2004). New University of Illinois at Chicago Programs to Address Nursing Shortage in Illinois.

Health Custom Wire.

2004). Quick Statistics on the Nursing Shortage.

Retrieved Jan 23, 2003, from JCAHO. Web site: http://www.jcaho.org/news+room/press+kits/quick+statistics+on+the+nursing+shortage.htm [END OF PREVIEW]

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