It is vital to know that recruitment is not enough to assure an adequate supply of nurses. American Nurses Association has created a national initiative to deal with the issues that have galvanized the profession. Every hospital in the country must focus on both retention and recruitment as future cornerstones of an adequate workforce.
A nursing shortage as defined by IOM “is a condition whereby there are not enough of professional nurses to provide quality of care of patients” (as cited in Quinn, 2002, p.2). National studies and reports have identified factors that have led to a profound nursing shortage: the aging of society (Martin et al., 2001); an aging nursing workforce (Buerhaus, Staiger, and Auerbach, 2000a; Minnick 2000) a decline in nursing enrollments (American Association of Colleges or Nursing [AACN], 2001); this shortage is uniquely serious in that it is connected to both an increased demand for, and also a decreased supply of nurses.
There have been lots of articles published in both nursing journals and public newspaper across the country about the worldwide nursing shortage. First and foremost is aging of the nursing workforce. The average age of nurses in the United States is 46 (Buerhaus, 2000). There has also been declining enrollment in nursing programs over the past decade, as women are able to move into other science focused roles besides nursing (Buerhaus, 2000). Also, highschool counselors tend not to recommend nursing to male or female students interested in science.
The salary structures in many health care facilities keep experienced registered nurses at lower salaries compared to other industries. A decreasing emphasis on retention of working nurses by many hospitals has caused nurses to feel that their concerns about stress and patient safety are not being heard or acted upon. Poorly trained managers or brusque, unkind preceptors often leave staff nurses feeling undervalued and not appreciated.
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