Saturday, May 20, 2006

A simple solution to the US nursing shortage: pay nurses more and improve their working conditions.

My public radio listening, the other morning, included health care policy analysts prating about the US nursing shortage. Nurses are an aging population, I was told. Retirees are not being replaced, in sufficient numbers, by new graduates.

Discussions like this always puzzle me, given that Americans and especially American political leaders so often extol ‘free market’ principles. That the supply of nurses could be increased by paying nurses more and improving their working conditions seemed not to occur to these analysts as a possible solution to the problem. In fairness, one did mention that nurses were leaving the positions where workloads of six or more patients made they feel they could not function either responsibly or with reasonable job satisfaction.

Recently, I accompanied my father on a day-long visit to a hospital ambulatory care center. The nursing care was excellent. When my father needed assistance, they responded quickly and cheerfully. The experience (At Chester County Hospital in Pennsylvania) was positive in every respect. I asked the nurses about their patient load. “Each of us is only assigned four patients,” one told me. “This means we are able to do the job that we were trained to do."

3 Comments:

Blogger Elizabeth said...

My mom, who has been an LPN for almost 35 years, makes the same argument. It's reached the point where nurses are expected to take on patient loads that are actually dangerous--no one can safely track ten patients at a time, and the likelihood that someone will be given the wrong medication or a mistaken dosage is frighteningly high.

I'm not sure how well better pay will work, though. A lot of nurses complete RN or NP training in order to make more money. Hospitals then push them into more administrative positions, which does nothing to help the patient load and ends up frustrating nurses who find themselves making enough money but no longer spending time with patients.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Nurse Jenny said...

Try to visit this site starting a nursing home its a nursing guide.. And its a solution to the nursing shortage crisis.

9:18 PM  
Anonymous Türkin said...

Good Job!:)

1:28 AM  

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