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The Nursing Shortage Explained 2021

The Nursing Shortage Explained 2021


Before I begin, these opinions are my own and I am just one nurse. It does not reflect opinions of my colleagues or anyone else I work with.


The nursing shortage that people keep talking about in 2021 has actually been a problem much before 2021. It is interesting because it has come into the spotlight more than ever due to a global health crisis. However I will say that this shortage of healthcare workers in general and in particular nurses have further been exacerbated by this pandemic but not in the way that the media believes.


Most of the media and politicians think the problem lies within the number of staff we have. It actually is not the number of staff it is the amount of qualified staff that do not want to work. They do not want to work in a situation that puts not only their license at risk but more importantly patients’ lives at risk. The way we fix this issue is by better supporting the staff we have right now. I have been working in the E.R for about a year now. I have learned A LOT and let me tell you, the way I have learned everything has definitely NOT been from my education, it has predominantly been by my highly experienced peers who have been doing this for many many years. And so when you take away these experienced nurses because they are not adequately supported then you are left with staff like myself and many others who are not able to ask an experienced RN what to do in different critical situations. This creates a situation where this newly qualified nurse starts to burn out due to stress and moves from the profession as a whole. So when I watch the news and you hear politicians and media say “hire more nurses” and “train more nurses” it is not just about that, it is about supporting them so that they can thrive at their job and have people they can count on for information. Especially when you work in a critical care environment.


The other issue is the fact that the patient complexities vary and as a result some patients may require higher levels of care than others. So you can have an assignment where a patient is demanding a lot of time and resources but you are within your jobs “working ratio”. As a result you are working under conditions which are deemed appropriate on paper but any person who is actually working with that particular assignment knows that it is not really manageable. As a result of this, nurses start feeling that they are inadequate to do their job which leads to stress, anxiety and ultimately burn out. And to be quite honest, I am not sure how to adequately assess these workloads so that it is safe for the patients and nurse but regardless it is a major problem. Usually the hospital demands you take care of patients at full tilt maximum workload and expect no poor patient outcomes and so when one of your patients starts crashing and requires a lot more time and resources, your other patients consequently suffer as well because you cannot give them the time they need for adequate  care. And then what happens is the patients start noticing that you are not providing THEM with proper care and talk about how you are not a good nurse or want to complain about etc…


Lastly, I think many hospitals have really tight budgets and so they do not have a high amount of staff as a baseline level. Therefore they are placed in a situation where if something like a pandemic occurs they have to accommodate the higher amounts of patients that come into the hospital and all of a sudden you have nurses with unsafe patient ratios which lead to nurses burning out but more importantly poor patient outcomes. Then when you have nurses call in sick or have nurses go on vacation during times of the year, this elevates the burden on the working staff even more.


Anyways those are just a few reasons why I believe there are major problems with staffing in nursing. What do you think? Do you agree? I would love to hear what you have to say. 


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