I must say, I do worry about this. As my kids get older, and my parents get older, I worry about whether or not there will be enough qualified nurses in the field to take care of the increasing population that needs care. Knowing people who work in that industry, I’ve heard of staff shortages and having nurses to work extra shifts. And come on, we know that isn’t healthy or productive for the individual or the patient who needs your undivided care and attention. Are nurses really complaining about long hours, back and foot pain from standing all day wearing nursing shoes that aren’t providing the support they need, or mandatory overtime that has gotten out of control?
The whole while I hear graduate nurses are having trouble locating a job? Now why is that? If hospitals are short on people, why can’t these hungry graduates take on the open positions? Well, I think one thing is hospitals have a certain budget that must work within. So while it seems like there are not enough nurses, there in fact are, or should be. You may even hear some hospitals are on a nursing freeze – what? How does this make sense? But yes, it all goes back to what each hospital can afford and what they deem is appropriate staff levels to deal with the amount of patients they see regularly.
Hospitals have reports that tell them when the ebb and flow of patients will occur and how many nurses need to be staffed. Hospitals are in the business of making money and they need to cut costs, or at least not increase costs, in order to show a profit. What better way to do so then keeping the number of nurses to a minimum? Nurse salary’s are one of the more expensive costs in the entire hospital (after the docs) and doctors always seem to be more important than nurses, even though they’re really not the ones who wage the war each day.
The top reason nurses can’t find jobs right out of school is because there are so many fighting for so few jobs. I’ve read there are 12 applicants for every 1 job position that opens up. That makes it very difficult when you’re constantly fighting an uphill battle against many others who are just as qualified.
Next off, many hospitals are very concerned with Magnet certification and all the perks and benefits with being designated as a Magnet certified hospital. This measures the strength and quality of the nursing staff, upping the designation of the hospital, and being the place that patients choose to come to for elective, routine, and emergency visits. A Magnet status means most hospitals are only hiring BSN graduates, making it increasingly hard for LPNs and diploma nurses to find something, even with a fairly sizable nursing history.
There are also a ton of nurses who are working longer. I’m talking about older nurses who might have retired if there wasn’t a significant turn in the economy. Now, they are working longer to recoup their lost earnings, even if that means working into their mid 60’s or earlier 70’s. That’s not a trend that younger nurses want to see.
So to answer the question, is there a nursing shortage? My best answer is No. It’s called a hiring shortage. Hospitals are watching their bottom dollar while also being very picky about whom they take on. And with nurses working longer and making more money, it’s as snowball effect that is putting a damper on individuals who really desire a nursing job right out of college. A nursing shortage, I think not. You can also read more about this now.