Over the past few years, the COVID19 pandemic has put healthcare systems around the world under a lot of stress and strain. And in the US, it’s made it clear just how badly the shortage of nurses is affecting healthcare. Recent reports suggest that the country does not have enough nurses to meet development goals or the growing demands of the patient population – and that was the case even before COVID19 hit.
Back in 2018, The World Health Organization reported that around the world, six million further nurses were needed for healthcare systems to be operating at their most efficient. In the US, the nursing shortage has been at its worse for several years, and by 2030, job openings for new nurses are expected to hit more than one million.
There are various reasons behind the shortage of nurses in the country. The aging population is one of the main reasons. Not only are patients getting older, which is requiring more nurses to care for them, but nurses themselves are also getting older and retiring out of the profession. Along with this, nursing education is in a troubling situation without enough nurse educators available to teach the number of students required to make an impact. Some of the main reasons behind the shortage in nursing include:
Nurses Retiring from the Job
The American Association of Colleges of Nurses puts the average age of the nursing workforce at around fifty years old. Although this might not quite be retirement age, nurses today are getting closer and closer to retirement, and many nurses do retire early. Older nurses might be struggling physically or having problems with the emerging technologies in healthcare. Many are ready to retire earlier than people might be in other professions due to the physical and emotional demands of the job, especially after working through a global pandemic. This is not only affecting registered nurses, but also specialist nursing areas such as midwifery. This DNP program in midwifery from Baylor University is designed to encourage current nurses to train to become a midwife with an online, flexible program.
People are living for longer these days thanks to advancements in medical science and healthcare. And while most of us are happy by the idea of having a longer life, living longer is also one of the main reasons why the US is facing a nursing shortage. Along with nurses themselves getting older, there are also more older patients for nurses to care for, which comes with a higher prevalence of chronic diseases, serious health risks, and other health conditions that are associated with getting older. Increasing the number of nurses in the workforce is key to making sure that the population is able to access the care that it needs as people get older.
Nursing Educator Shortage
There is currently a direct link between the shortage of registered nurses and a shortage of nurse educator. Around the country, nurse educators are necessary to provide nursing students with the education that they need to get into the career. However, nursing schools around the US are still having to turns students down despite the fact that they are needed. As colleges and nursing schools do not have the capacity to teach more students and add to the nursing workforce as a result, the problem continues.
Overwork and Burnout
The shortage of nurses itself is also not helping things, with many nurses who are working through this situation dealing with a lack of resources, a lack of support, and generally being overworked and burned out due to smaller teams. This is especially true after the COVID19 pandemic with many nurses leaving their roles and choosing a different career because they are struggling to cope with all the work throughout a shortage of nurses. The number of nurses that are employed by the healthcare industry today is simply not enough to meet the growing needs and demands of the population, which is leading to exhaustion among current nurses.
How the Nursing Shortage is Affecting Countries Around the World
Although the US in particular has been hit quite hard by the shortage of nurses, this is an issue that is affecting healthcare systems around the world. Many countries are currently experiencing some kind of nursing shortage. Globally, nurses are currently making up around half of the healthcare workforce. But according to the WHO, the world will be short of around six million nurses within the next ten years.
How Did the Nursing Shortage Start?
There have always been periodic shortages in nursing over the years, according to the World Health Organization. These have always typically resolved on their own. However, over the last ten years, the nursing shortage has been more difficult to resolve due to a wide range of factors that are causing it. Along with the fact that many nurses are getting ready to retire and the population is getting older, plus educational systems not having enough nurse educators to help new nurses get into the profession; it all adds up. While colleges and nursing schools are working together with healthcare organizations, there need to be more changes made to see a bigger impact.
Which Nurses are Needed Most?
Nurses in every healthcare department are currently experiencing a shortage across the US. All units and specialty areas will need more nurses in order to continue delivering the expected standard of healthcare. With the nursing shortage in the US worsening at an alarming rate, there has never been a better time to get into this career with a higher demand than ever before for skilled, competent, and well-educated nurses that is only set to grow further over time. If you have been considering training to become a nurse, now is the time to get into nursing and make a huge difference to healthcare.
Around the world and in the US especially, the shortage of nurses has only been made more apparent by the COVID19 pandemic. With an aging population, more nurses are needed now and in the future to keep up with growing healthcare demands.