Nurses undoubtedly play a crucial role in patient care in medical and hospice facilities. The importance of nursing in health care is so important so that the patients’ outcomes are largely dependent on it. This explains why nurses constitute the largest group of medical service providers who provide direct patient care in many hospitals throughout the country. Having underscored the importance of nursing in the healthcare sector, it is imperative that such services are readily available to patients in hospitals throughout the country. A shortage of nursing services would be detrimental in many respects, not just to the few available nurses who would be tasked with patient care, but also the patients.
Nursing shortage is one of the major issues that affect most of the hospitals in the United States. There is a major shortfall of nursing services throughout the nation and this has adversely impacted the quality of nursing care. Hospitals in the U.S have grappled with such cyclical shortages, so much so that states have been resigned to draft legislations that would directly address this acute shortage. In some instances, there are programs to have nurses extend their working hours so that they are able to provide care to the patients. The state of California pioneered a nurse staffing mandate that sought to address the huge patient to nurses’ ratio. This was following the finding that a lower nurse to patient ratio was associated with lower mortality in the hospitals that exhibited such legislations (Aiken Et Al. 1). However, such implementations have faced monumental challenges because of the general shortfall of nurses throughout the entire country. There are numerous nursing vacancies that remain unfilled to this day even with the reigning unemployment challenges in the United States.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the nursing shortage currently prevalent in the United States. These are unique challenges to this career as opposed to the traditional challenges in a certain work environment. The first of these causes of the shortfall of nurses is the wider pool of careers for women to choose from. Women still comprise of the majority of nurses in the U.S, but most opt for different careers that are less hands on. The vast majority of nurses in the U.S are made up of the aging population, a key contributor to this shortage as they don’t have people who can replace them upon retirement. There is also a general shortage of workforce in certain ancillary professions such as nursing because of the nature of work involved. Additionally, there are fundamental changes in the manner of patient care in managed environments thus compounding the shortfall. This is because of the ever decreasing hospital-stay length as patients prefer to have family doctors who would give them acute care in home and ambulatory settings. Economically, the shortage is driven largely by the supply side of the equation rather than the demand side (Nevidjon & Erikson Para.2).