Nursing shortage

The issue of  shortage of nursing services is a global one as it affects both the developing and the developed countries. In the United States alone it is projected that by the year 2020, about twelve years from now, 44 states will have a shortage of nurses. (Ferguson V, Ball K.A.1990). This is a 46% increase from the current 30 states which face a shortage of nurses.

Various reasons have been advanced to explain this phenomenon for instance the demographic changes over the years is said to be one of the causes. However, I think the fundamental issue here is planning.

Poor planning is the cause of this mess. If resources had been properly allocated this issue would not be there. Developed countries failed to adhere to warnings of a growing aged population and no plans were therefore made to prepare for this change. They have only acted after realizing the problem might get out of hand and started acting may be a little bit too late.

As mentioned above the increase in the population of senior citizens in developed is said to be one of the causes of the shortage of nurses. This increase has resulted in an unprecedented demand for nursing services. (Ferguson V, Ball K.A. 1990). The developed countries having realized that the issue was bigger than they thought having been poaching educated health officers from developing by luring them with better opportunities. This has worsened the problem in developing countries who already face an acute shortage of health staff. The few remaining healthy workers are forced to work long hours in order to serve everyone.

The last global survey conducted on this issue by the World Health Organization in 1978 showed that 6% of physicians and 5% of nurses do not work in their country of origin. (Timby B. K. 2008). This was around 38 years ago and with the advent of information technology where recruitment can be done on line this number must gave increased significantly. Developed countries are also promoting bilateral agreements with the less developed countries to the effect that they recognize each other’s qualifications. This makes it easier for nurses from developing countries to migrate to the developed countries.

A decrease in the number of people enrolling in nursing schools is also said to be another reason. It is said that the total number of registered nurse is growing at the lowest rate in 20years. However this point lacks any validity as the real situation is that the current nursing faculties do not have the capacity to accommodate all those who want to pursue nursing. Some applicants have to be left out yet there is said to be a shortage of nurses. This is the case in the U. S. where a total of 30 states which do not have adequate training facilities have an acute shortage of nurses. This is happening in a country that is known to be one of the largest and advanced economies and upholds high human rights standards.

The first thing that needs to be done to rectify this situation is to increase the number of nursing faculties. Governments should allocate more funds to the health sector in their budgets with a focus on increasing nursing institutions. Unfortunately this has not been the case as resources are diverted to other sectors such as defence for countries which are under no threat of war.

Secondly the current trend where developed countries lure educated health officers from the poor countries should be looked into. This has led to massive brain drain in the developing countries who already do not have enough nurses themselves. These countries invest a lot in these individuals only for them to desert their countries and offer their services elsewhere.

Both the developing countries and the developed countries should work together in finding a lasting solution to this issue of brain drain. Nurses who migtare from developing countries should be given temporary visas on the agreement that once their visas epire they should return home and apply what they have learnt at home. (Feldman H. R. 2003) This will result in more of an exchange of ideas program and help reduce the brain drain.

Health facilities should also be set up in the remote areas. The best health facilities are usually located in urban centres which more developed than the rural areas. In rural areas there is low recruitment of nurses and it takes longer for their applications to be processed. For instance in the non frontier regions in the U.S. it may take up to six months to recruit nurses yet theses people also need medical attention. (Ellis R. J, Hartley C.L. 2003)

Most trained nurses end up quiting their jobs due to low job satisfaction and poor pay. They do most of the work yet they are paid lower than other health officers. Most nurses are forced to work extra hours due to the shortage of nurses. They are forced to sacrifice holidays and valuable family time. The average age of the total number of nurses  globally is on the rise and this can be attributed to low enrolment of nursing schools and job dissatisfaction. If this trend continues the problem will only get worse and the access to medical services will continue declining as the cost of health care continues to rise.



 Feldman H. R. (2003) The Nursing Shortage: Strategies for Recruitment and Retention in Clinical Practice and Education, Springer Pub. Co

Ferguson V, Ball K.A. (1990)  The Nursing Shortage: Dynamics and Solutions , W.B. Saunders,

Ellis R. J, Hartley C.L. (2003) Nursing in Today’s World: Trends, Issues & Management, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins,

Timby B. K. (2008) Fundamental Nursing Skills and Concepts, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins as accessed on 5th August 2008

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