Friday, June 17, 2016

Nursing Shortages

Recently, I heard rumors of a nursing program that might not be able to support its nursing students for much longer in my area. It’s disappointing to say the least, but it also casts a very real light on the issues with nursing shortages.

About a year ago, I went to a training for nursing management within the state of Idaho. We talked about many different things, and one of the things that really stuck out to me was the reality of nursing shortages. There’s so many different levels that cause it, and when added together, it looks disastrous.

First, we’ve got a lot of nurses who are thinking about retiring. These are the baby boomers, the ones who’ve kept in the field their entire careers. We can’t keep them forever, and as they start to retire, there’s a lot more openings that are going to start appearing in the nursing field.

Second, there’s not enough graduates coming into nursing. The projection they gave was that there’s double the number of nurses retiring than nurses entering the field. Why is that? I feel like I’m always talking to someone who wants to get into a nursing program, who wants to study nursing. With all the desire, why don’t we have enough nurses to fill the void left by our veteran nurses?

Here’s where the statistics get a little more concerning. We don’t have enough nursing instructors. When I was at Saint Louis University, the majority of our instructors were close to retiring. One even came back from retirement because there wasn’t anyone else to teach the subject. Unfortunately, most nurses who graduate with a degree want to work in the field. Plus, there’s a better chance to rise in ranks and earn more money. New nurses don’t have the experience or the desire to teach, they want to get in the field and experience it themselves.

The retired nurses, the lack of graduates, and the depletion of nursing instructors creates a very real crisis. I’m seeing more and more ads for nurses, and recently, I’m seeing almost double the number of recruiters contacting me about positions with high benefits and sign on bonuses. Personally, I feel like the nursing shortage is a real thing, and some areas, like long term, are getting hit the worst, especially as more and more baby boomers become ill and need assistance.