In recent years, a shortage of nurses has become one of the most acute problems on a global scale. According to the World Health Organization (2020), the global nurse shortage could widen to nearly 13 million. For example, among the main reasons for the shortage of nurses are the aging and retirement of health workers, the shift of nurses to higher-paying jobs, the growth of the world’s population, and poor recruitment or shortage of new staff. Moreover, Kurnat-Thoma et al. (2017) assert that one of the main reasons for understaffing and nursing shortages is ineffective planning and inadequate employment of available nursing resources. Thus, a growing shortage of nurses has a serious negative impact on the activities of the entire system, which affects the decrease in the quality of medical care for the population and the deterioration of the results of their treatment.
The lack of nurses is a factor in the decline in the quality of care, which directly affects patient outcomes. Drennan and Ross (2019) affirm that a shortage of medical staff can affect the quality of care provided in all settings, leading to an increase in the number of complications and sometimes even death among the patients involved. Thus, the growing shortage of nurses due to increased staff turnover increases the burden on working nurses. As a result, these working conditions become very stressful and lead to job dissatisfaction, nursing burnout and fatigue, and sometimes even injury. MacPhee et al. (2017) note that the increasing burden on nurses enhances nursing burnout, readmission rates and patient risk of infection, and higher mortality rates. Such errors or related outcomes result in patients being forced to receive poor quality medical services and thus cause various complications that could have been prevented in the first place.
Thus, to solve this problem, the following PICOT question is proposed: Among patients receiving nursing care (P), optimization of the ratio of nurses to patients (I) compared to not solving the problem of shortage of nurses (C) can improve patient outcomes (O) during period six months (T)? First, the first element, population, is patients of all ages with different diagnoses and nursing care. Secondly, optimization of the ratio of the number of nurses and patients is investigated as an intervention. Third, the comparison is that there is no solution to the problem of nursing shortages. Fourth, the outcome is improved patient outcomes. Fifth, the desired positive results are expected within six months after the launch of the program. It appears that addressing this issue will conclude that a shortage of nurses harms patient outcomes. Patient outcomes can be improved through the use of strategies to overcome the nursing shortage.
Registered nurses, supervising assistants and junior nurses, perform an impressive range of functions: assess the condition and symptoms, keep a patient’s medical history, provide with medicines, cooperate with other medical specialists and consult with doctors to create an individual treatment plan. In the United States, health care workers are facing layoffs, reduced salaries and schedules. Many states in the US have stopped private medical procedures during the pandemic to curb the spread of the coronavirus (U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, 2020). Hospitals and medical clinics are introducing temporary layoffs, vacations and reductions in salaries and work schedules in response to a decrease in income. Strategies such as developing nursing leadership, supporting nurses in the workplace, and increasing productivity through workplace innovation can be proposed to address the nursing shortage that leads to poor patient outcomes.
There is a need to optimize the ratio of the number of nurses and patients. An increase in the number of nurses will improve the quality of care. Nowadays a nurse in the United States is positioned as a doctor’s partner, which is logical: a nurse is constantly in contact with the patient, meets all his needs, responds in a timely manner to the deterioration of his physiological and psychological well-being, builds relationships with relatives of patients. It is the nurse who collects and analyzes all the information about the patient’s condition, and only a nurse is able to advise the doctor in detail about who is treating. In order to attract more nurses, it is necessary to increase the average salary and introduce a system of bonuses for professional and high-quality care. Moreover, it is important to provide employees with decent rest conditions, a lunch break, and a vacation system.
Due to the inefficient patient-to-nurse ratio, nurses feel dissatisfied, and patients may have poor treatment outcomes. Therefore, it is important to ensure the safety of patients by nurses. Firstly, it is medical ethics: a nurse has no right to transfer personal information or information about the diagnosis of patients. Secondly, all medications are given to patients strictly according to prescriptions. Therefore, the patient will not be able to harm his health unknowingly. Another important way to ensure safe medical treatment is the introduction of informative courses and lectures on hygiene and ethics and professional training courses to minimize the risk of medical errors.
Health Care Agency
The scarcity of nurses is a problem that the healthcare industry is increasingly facing today. Medical organizations face a growing challenge to meet the demand for medical services, facing a shortage of nurses. Nurses make up more than half of all healthcare workers globally and provide vital services at all levels of the healthcare system. Today, as in the past, they are at the forefront of the fight against epidemics and pandemics that threaten people’s health around the world. Countries facing a shortage of nurses should ensure an increase in the number of graduates in the specialty “nursing” by an average of 8% per year. Moreover, it is important not only to create jobs but also to keep them at work through bonuses and good working conditions. (Cox et al., 2017). States should invest in a large-scale acceleration of the training of new nurses, creating jobs for them and strengthening their leadership role. Without nursing and midwifery staff countries will not be able to win the fight against disease outbreaks, meet the goal of ensuring universal access to health services, or achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Health care professionals, from doctors to registered nurses, provide medical services depending on their field. However, the lack of nurses leads to difficulties in all areas. Several reasons cause the deficiency of nurses in the United States: modern women have a wide choice of professions, more and more nurses are retiring due to age, and in the United States as a whole, the number of pensioners is increasing, and more and more medical workers are needed for their medical care. Trying to solve this problem, the governor of Illinois recently signed several new laws to attract nurses to his state. Now those wishing to study to be a nurse are given training grants (Shuman et al., 2018). It will be easier for nurses from other countries to find a job in Illinois, and hospitals are prohibited from forcing nurses to work overtime. Retaining existing staff and recruiting new ones are important measures for a long-term solution to the shortage of nursing staff.
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Drennan, V. M. & Ross, F. (2019). Global nurse shortages—the facts, the impact and action for change. British Medical Bulletin, 130(1), 25–37. Web.
Kurnat-Thoma, E., Ganger, M., Peterson, K., & Channell, L. (2017). Reducing annual hospital and registered nurse staff turnover—A 10-element onboarding program intervention. SAGE Open Nursing, 3, 1–13. Web.
MacPhee, M., Dahinten, V., & Havaei, F. (2017). The impact of heavy perceived nurse workloads on patient and nurse outcomes. Administrative Sciences, 7(7), 1-17. Web.
Shuman, C. J., Ploutz-Snyder, R. J., & Titler, M. G. (2018). Development and testing of the nurse manager EBP competency scale. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 40(2), 175-190. Web.
U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics. (2020). TED: The Economics Daily image. Registered nurses made up 30 percent of hospital employment in May 2019. Web.
World Health Organization (2020). State of the world’s nursing 2020: Investing in education, jobs and leadership [PDF document]. Web.