Staffing shortages in health care have been a mystifying subject to experts because of measurements in survey, new health care businesses arriving every day, people reevaluating job choices, and increases and decreases in health care applications. The subject of staffing shortages has a great deal of negativity, health care organizations need to have more team involvement. Without greater involvement by health care institutions, staffing shortages will provide problems such as lower nurse to patient ratios and high mortality rates. The research paper will reflect current trends leading to shortages in staffing, the influence of the shortages, economic effects, governments’ role, businesses role, society’s role, and the future dilemma of staffing shortages.
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Influence of the Trend
With an increase of chronic diseases making a comeback, there has been a shift in health care organizations continuum of care. The chief problem when it comes to staffing is increasing demands, longer hours, and nursing mistakes. Current trends that are influencing staffing shortages are ” aging patient populations, shorter length of stay, increased patient load, â€¦, increase of overtime, stressful work environment, unstable workforce, few incentives, declining morale, and quality concerns” (Leach, 2007, p.2). Some nursing shortages factors that can be attributed are according to Leach, ” hiring bonuses, higher wage rates, lack of free continued education, salary compression, effective recruitment, view staffers as assets, make positive changes in work environment, expand career opportunities, and increase staffers contribution to health care “( Leach, 2007, p. 3). Staffing shortages and how to keep staff are important, health care organizations should follow through with simple ideologies to keep facilities well staffed.
Factors in the economic aspects of staffing shortages would include: supply and demand, area of geographic, budget constraints, education, microeconomics, macroeconomics, and stability in the market, planning, efficiency, cost benefit analysis, and direct costs. A statement which speaks on the dangers an organization may face when trying to hire and keep nurses is in an article by the Department of Health and Human Services 2009, ” the adequacy of nurse supply varies geographically throughout the Nation, â€¦ a moderate shortage of registered nurses (RN) exists and the findings of our analysis suggest that the current RN shortage will continue to grow in severity during the next 20 years if current trends prevail and that some States face a more severe shortage than do others ” ( p. 1). In order for nurses to thrive in their professions health care organizations need to discover ways of reducing stress and burnout. The nation may have highly educated nurses but if she or he is not happy then the quality of care will suffer. According to another area of an article by the Department of Health and Human Services, 2009, “The growth and aging population, along with the continued demand for highest quality of care in the nation is creating a surge in demand for RNs and because many RNs are now reaching retirement age, the nursing profession facing difficulties attracting and retaining new employees, the RN supply remains flat” (p.1). Health care organizations should look to trend analysis to better serve the future of nursing. Only statistics will show the need of staffing. Listed below is a copy of a baseline projection from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (2009) website showing substantial decline in the RN population between 2000 and 2020 due to a number of new RN graduates in each state is lessening ( Table 1, p.1).
Table 1 Baseline RN Projections, 2000 to 2020
Change from 2000-2020
RNs providing nursing services or seeking employment in nursing
FTE RNs providing nursing services
The Nurse Reinvestment Act was passed in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives in December, 2001. The Nurse Reinvestment Act amends the Public Health Service Act allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to promote the nursing profession (Nurse Reinvestment Act At A Glance, 2005). This amendment allows nursing applicants who cannot afford to pay back student loans an opportunity to receive grants as long as he or she works in areas where the need is the highest. This amendment also allows nursing schools and health care organizations to do outreach programs to persons interested in entering the nursing field. The Nurse Reinvestment Act also encourages a career choice of long-term nursing services for the elderly and demonstrates how to retain nursing staff. Individual States also have put forth legislative measures and they are as follows: ” No Mandatory Overtime, Whistleblower Protection, Collection and Reporting of Nursing Sensitive Quality Data, Requiring Valid and Reliable Staffing Systems of nursing staff required to deliver safe and quality of care, Collection of Nursing Supply and Demand Data” ( Pindus, Tilly, Weinstein, 2002, 6, p.2).
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Nurses are the backbone and information gatherers in any health care organization and hold the key to patient health and recovery. Health care organizations contain the tools needed to hire, retain, and ensure stability within the workforce environment. The problem remains in budgeting errors, wrong strategies for investments, and a complete negligence of insight for nursing professionals and education. To encourage a smoother transition to hiring and keeping nurse’s health care organizations must focus on service delivery. Organizational staffing shortages as quoted from the Oracle Data Sheet, 2008, (1) “improve productivity, satisfaction, and retention, (2) integrate employee development and education through enterprise, (3) systematically grow and reward talent, (4) control workforce costs and improve service to employees and managers, (5) deliver workforce intelligence for improved decision making, (6) practice integration and improve service levels” (Oracle Data Sheet, 2008, 1-13, pgs. 2-3). With all of these ideas in mind Human Resources should have no problem hiring and keeping nurses. The above information should be used as an asset when considering the shortage of nurses.
Society’s role begins with nursing schools, availability of education, and deciding nursing capabilities. Some may differ on the reasoning but not including a quarter of all applicants for whatever the reason, the nation is suffering and losing numbers. Other reasons society plays a role in staffing shortages would be the way an individual may vote, lobby, and have his or her voice heard. The topic of health care issues is usually only heard when one of the nation’s leaders has a particular agenda. According to an article in Facts about Nursing Shortages, (2006), society’s role on the issue is as follows: “growing demand, new graduate problems, lower baccalaureate enrollment, higher hospital census and great acuity, salary wars, and baby boom bubble” (p.2). Change is inevitable due to changing occurrences in health care staffing, and all of the above issues can be addressed.
Future of the Trend
The future of health care staffing is difficult to predict. The complications that may occur in health care facilities that slow the care of patients from all employees can only be imagined. Positive thinking, teamwork, planning, and forecasting are helpful tools as population; supply and demand is in the forthcoming. The trend in health care and nursing shortages shows promising results. There are a few ideologies according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute, (2007) that show improvement reasons for staffing issues and are as follows: “develop public-private partnerships, collaborate with educational institutions, seek understanding, adapt, measure results, encourage technology based programs, embrace consumerism, make information technology a competency requirement, design flexible roles, personalize scheduling, use internal registries and eliminate supplemental staffing, establish performance based metrics, optimize talent and investment, incentivize teamwork, connect quality outcomes to compensation, and set benchmarks” ( pgs.23-47). These are all wonderful ideologies and the future health care organizations need great ideas and planning for quality and efficient health care.
Staffing shortages in health care have been a mystery to experts due to measurements in survey, errors in sampling, new health care businesses arriving every day, people reevaluating job choices, and increases and decreases in health care applications. Influence of trends on health care staffing shortages shows a need for change in health care models of staffing, a requirement for organizational effectiveness, and the best possible patient care. The economic influence shows how organizations must develop newer and better ways of controlling the budget and apply that budget to change staffing needs. Government, businesses, and society’s role are a little different but they co-exist on the difficult issues facing health care. Without government change, businesses could not change, and without society change government or businesses cannot change. Hopefully, the future of health care staffing will take the appropriate steps in changing the current trend and realize the important need to hire, keep, and continue to educate new nurses. The need for staffing will become inelastic at some point but organizations but stand with confidence in their efforts.
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