Written by pharmacist  |  29. June 2002

It is of no surprise to any nurse working out in the field that they are feeling the effects of yet another nursing shortage. Some experts feel the shortage of the 1980's never ended but was masked by the changes in the healthcare setting, namely,. managed care. Shortages have been documented across the country, however, not all states are expected to experience this shortage at the same time. There is no doubt that specialty areas such as the intensive care units, labor and delivery, and emergency room areas have had significant deficits, but there is evidence to suggest that this shortage will cross all disciplines. Nursing shortages in the United States have historically been very cyclical and economically based. When the economy is booming and unemployment percentages are low a nursing shortage has been likely to follow. However, this newly predicted shortage seems to be multi-faceted. Many healthcare professionals feel managed care is to blame and hospital cost cutting measures have lead to downsizing the professional nurses' position. Approximately one-third of a hospitals budget is spent on nursing salaries. In an attempt to decrease costs and yet "enhance" nursing care, hospitals countrywide have increased the use of unlicensed assistive personnel. The numbers of students entering nursing colleges today, has steadily decreased. Budget cuts in the educational programs limit the number of students who can enter into a nursing program because of faculty cuts and some institutions are focusing on Master and Doctorate programs in an attempt to prepare for the future. In addition, . women have more opportunity today and are making greater advances in other professions with better pay and working conditions. An aging nursing workforce is also a problem. The average age of practicing nurses is 44 years old. Employers have not valued the new nurse graduate in the past, a missed opportunity to rebuild a qualified workforce. It is not too late to make some positive changes. When hospitals were downsizing, most of the recruiting programs were put on hold or focused on attracting qualified nurses from another organization. Retention and recruitment programs need to be put into high gear. Recruiters can have valuable relationships with universities allowing more internships and externships. Designing effective preceptor programs with experienced staff members allows new graduates to enter into the field of nursing with confidence, loyalty, and of value to their employer. -Maureen Gregg RN.

As for Long Island Nurses, I am please to announce that a major L.I.health care network has open the doors of opportunity for R.N's for both part-time and full-time positions. If you are a nurse and are interested in these new positions please contact me at SFERZOLA@hotmail.com. I have been asked by this organization to refer individuals for this positions to help improve the shortage which has developed.

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