Decades long cyclical shortages of nurses is now affecting patient care
There are many reasons for the decrease in available nurses in 2012. Nurses are aging, some are leaving the profession because they feel overworked and underpaid and demand is growing. With the passage of the Affordable Health Care Act in 2010 (commonly referred to as Obamacare) over 32 million Americans are now able to receive health care that was previously denied to them due to their economic and/or employment status. While not all of them are rushing to doctors and hospitals for check-ups; it’s obvious there will be an exponential increase in the number of trained medical professionals.
On the scholastic side of things, budget shortages and cutbacks have created a catch-22 where many educational institutions simply don’t have sufficient class space for all the people who want to enter the medical field. And yet contrary to this dilemma, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting a need for well over half a million new nurses between now and 2018 – a 22% increase in employment that has the numbers, but not the bodies.
As more jobs are needed and there are less nurses to fill them – nurses are working harder than ever, experiencing high turnover to different facilities in an attempt to increase their pay and the people suffering more than the beleaguered nurse are the patients. In short, inadequate levels of nurses who are happy at their place of employment is translating into a potential health care crisis that isn’t going to go away soon. The New England Journal of Medicine relates low nurse staffing rates directly to patient mortality while Medical Care reports that higher numbers of nurses on staff was proven to be associated with fewer deaths, lower rates of infection and shorter hospital stays for patients.
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