08 Mar How Healthcare Institutions are Approaching the Nursing Shortage
There is a massive nursing shortage being faced by countries all around the world. The ever-increasing population means more resources and professionals in the healthcare sector are needed. Though healthcare as a whole suffers from massive shortages, the shortage is felt most keenly within nursing.
Nurses make up for half the global healthcare workforce. Globally it is estimated that there will be a shortage of between 7 million and 13 million.
A global shortage indicates a global issue. Many professionals believe that to offset this shortage, and finally make headway with improving healthcare as a whole, a global solution is necessary.
The Nursing Shortage and Its Complications
Globally it is estimated that by 2030 there will be a shortage of 7 million to 13 million nurses. This includes the current shortage of 6 million nurses we are currently facing around the world.
Many experts believe a global solution is essential when the issue spans across borders. Though the issue is a global one, the current method that many developed countries are using is no longer working. In the past, the solution was simply to hire nurses from abroad to work here. On average, it is estimated that 16% of nurses are foreign-born.
The nursing shortage is nothing new. There has been a shortage of nurses in the United States since the 1930s. Immigration requirements have eased and encouraged international nurses to move to the United States to work there since the 1950s.
While immigration itself is not a problem, looking only for solutions outside of home soil does cause international issues. Hiring talented healthcare workers from other countries often leaves the healthcare situation in their home country in a worse situation. Jamaica, for example, has lost 29% of its critical care nurses to migration.
Hiring from other countries is not a long-term solution. Nor is it a solution that works on a global scale. Improving working conditions, education conditions, and the work/life balance of nurses is a must.
There is a pervasive view that nurses are overworked and underpaid. Addressing the cause of this view, and the view itself, can help transition nursing from a vocation to a vied-for career.
One of the most critical issues that exacerbate the nursing shortage is the fast turnaround of nurses. Thomas Jordan, an American Hospital Association spokesperson, claims that up to 33% of new nurses will leave the workforce within two years.
How Can Healthcare and Governments Reduce the Shortage?
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is how quickly society will grind to a halt without essential workers. Nurses are some of society’s essential workers. Improving the working conditions and giving non-nurses new paths into nurses are some of the best ways that healthcare organizations and governments as a whole can reduce the shortage.
Increase Pay, Benefits, and Support
One of the biggest ways that governments and healthcare organizations can work to reduce the shortage is by giving greater incentives for nurses to stay. Higher pay, better working conditions, and additional mental health support will go a long way towards reducing burnout and giving more professionals a greater incentive to start a career in nursing.
Nurses today, especially APRNs, are highly skilled. Treating them as less because their role puts the patient first instead of medicine first is a huge mistake. The fact that nurses are quitting healthcare, or at least taking their healthcare education elsewhere, is a travesty.
More nurses will help to even out excessive workloads, but until that happens, nurses must be properly compensated for the backbreaking work that they do. They also need greater support.
This support should come in the form of mental health support, as well as everyday support like free childcare if they are parents. Supporting nurses and making it easier for them to manage their own health and personal life will make it easier for them to work with patients.
Increase in Dedicated, Accelerated BSN Degrees
Encouraging more people to kickstart a career in nursing is one of the most effective ways to offset the nursing shortage. A full BSN typically takes four years to complete in its entirety. This is a full bachelor’s program that, for many who already have a degree and career in a different field, is too long of a commitment.
The rise of accelerated BSN degrees is set to change this. Accelerated degrees allow those who have a BSN in a non-nursing field to transition into nursing faster. They are full-time programs and cannot be completed while working, but in exchange, professionals can transition into their second career in just 16 months.
How these nurses are being taught is also evolving. Accelerated BSNs are primarily taught online, making them far more accessible for a greater number of professionals. Being able to save by remaining at home and also studying from an affordable area can make the transition easier.
These online degrees do, of course, have in-person training. The best accelerated BSN nursing programs include clinical immersion periods on campus. During this time, professionals will be taught in a state-of-the-art simulation lab.
All BSN programs must also offer clinical placement services. Clinical hours are essential for solidifying what a new nurse has learned and using that information in a real-world setting.
Accelerated degrees are a great way for those already working to kickstart a new career in nursing. Accelerated degrees can even be ideal for those working in healthcare who cannot easily manage a degree while working.
The increase in education offerings available for non-nurses and other healthcare workers is one of the most useful and fundamental tools to encourage more people to work in healthcare as a nurse.
Currently, there is a huge issue with healthcare access. Centralized healthcare systems mean that cities and densely populated areas often come with the most advanced hospitals and departments. This leaves many without access to quality care. This issue even happens in low-income areas, even if they are densely populated.
On the healthcare side of things, it means that nurses are encouraged to move to more expensive areas in order to work. By decentralizing healthcare and moving the focus from just cities to around the country, more nurses can help their communities and the people they know and love while simultaneously benefitting from lower living costs.
Adopting Telehealth as Standard
Adopting the next generation of technology will also allow fewer professionals to take on more patients with less effort. Monitoring tools and the ability to handle appointments and more remotely will mean that more patients can get the care that they need without having to fill in clinics, doctor’s offices, and hospitals.
Monitoring tools will be essential when it comes to this method. Automation processes will be the hardest workers with the adoption of telehealth. Patients that need to be checked regularly will instead need to wear a device that can monitor their condition, or at least have the instruments and know-how to take their own measurements at home. The nurse or doctor caring for them will only be notified when the system detects an issue.
It gives patients greater freedom and care and helps ease the workload for healthcare professionals.
Increase in high school recruiting
Inspiring the next generation is another great tactic that governments and healthcare institutions can use to help improve nursing numbers. Talks should ideally focus on a mix of informative and helpful information. Not only should healthcare institutions work to help inform students of what nurses do and what you can do with a nursing career, they should also provide key health talks that help people understand more about essential health science.
This can help reduce any anxiety around vaccinations, for example.
Health talks are already common for issues like smoking, drinking, and drugs. Adding in positive talks on how to lead a healthy life, and when to visit a hospital, a clinic, or to call the health hotline can also help ease the strain on healthcare institutions as a whole.
One of the biggest differences that healthcare institutions can make is by opening up special volunteer and internship programs for students (high school and college). These programs will need to be rewarding. Ideally, students should aim to volunteer with a health organization to improve their college applications. Being in the environment, especially one that is designed to provide teaching, may just encourage more students to consider healthcare as a career from the outset.
Increase Support and Funding for Nursing Students
When there is a shortage with such serious implications, there must be a direct response. Governments should aim to subsidize nursing degrees so that they become a more affordable, appealing option for young professionals. Governments can alternatively alter the student loan program to reduce the issue of high-interest rates for essential roles.
Taking out a student loan is a solution, but it is not one that puts the student in a fiscally advantageous situation. Many students find that their interest rate is so high they only manage to pay that off and nothing else. Reducing interest to a minimum for essential degrees and roles will help encourage more people into nursing as a career.
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