Washington Times Examines Factors Contributing to Growing Nursing Shortage
A Washington Times special report on Sunday examined the nation's nursing shortage and some of the issues that have prompted many nurses to leave the profession. According to an American Hospital Association survey, hospitals nationwide have average vacancy rates of 11% to 14% for nursing positions; HHS predicts that the number of hospital nursing vacancies will reach 800,000 by 2020. Some health care experts attribute the problem to a move by hospitals in the 1990s to reduce the number of registered nurses on staff to decrease costs. The staff reductions forced nurses to treat more patients and work longer hours, which led to professional "burnout" for many nurses, the Times reports. As a result, many registered nurses in the past few years have left hospitals to work for managed care plans, pharmaceutical companies and consulting firms. In addition, many nurses have reached retirement age, and "not enough people are replacing them," the Times reports. Enrollment in nursing schools nationwide has decreased in the past few years, and many schools have closed. Patricia Yoder-Wise, first vice president of the American Nurses Association, said, "The nursing shortage is pretty dramatic, it's probably the worst we've ever seen" and will not likely end in the near future (Howard Price, Washington Times, 12/15). A second Washington Times article on Sunday examined some of the incentives that hospitals in the Washington, D.C., area have offered to recruit and retain nurses (Howard Price, Washington Times, 12/15). The article is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.