“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last you create what you will.” ~bernard shaw
And what do I imagine? The arts integrated in every healthcare organization. Creative interventions incorporated into patient care… included in patient care plans…becoming a standard nursing order for patients and families…integrated into nursing theories…and so on…
(an old book I transformed to a Book of Quotes)
As I was researching and thinking about the topic for this post, I realized the field of nursing is in a crises situation, thus, effecting the entire health care industry. Nurses are the backbone in healthcare, providing the infrastructure, foundation, support, mortar, and represents a huge revenue portion in all healthcare organizations. Nurses are firmly planted in insurance companies, public and private medical centers and hospitals, specialty outpatient centers, outpatient clinics, medical offices, schools, in the private and public sectors, and the list goes on.
The crises/shortage of nurses is reaching a critical point. This chaos is necessary before change within nursing and the entire health care industry, can occur. Change in attitudes, perceptions and value by the general public, by other health professionals, by health care administrators, by the business communities, by policy makers, and by nurses themselves.
Nurses enter nursing because they (we) are empathetic by nature, are concerned for people’s well-being, and have a strong desire to help our fellow human-beings. It would nearly be impossible for the health care industry to exist or function without nurses.
But I’m digressing, so…
The Nursing Shortage
The information presented in this post on the current nursing shortage is not new. In fact, the nursing shortage of RNs providing direct clinical care has been building for a number of years, and is due to a number of contributing factors. A lot of this information was gleaned from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing website as well as other reputable websites. Below is a summary of factors contributing to the nursing shortage and effects on patient care.
Here’s some facts about the nursing shortage:
- Enrollment in schools of nursing is not growing fast enough to meet the projected demand for nurses over the next ten years. Extremely qualified students are being placed on waiting lists at nursing schools because of the limited number of available spots in academic programs. In the mean time,students consider and pursue other career paths; they can’t put their professional lives on hold forever. This cycle becomes a self-perpetuating crises.
- In April 2006, Health Resources and Services Administration officials released projections that the nation’s nursing shortage would grow to more than one million nurses by the year 2020, and to meet the projected growth in demand for RN services, the U.S. must graduate approximately 90% more nurses from US nursing schools.
- A shortage of nursing school faculty is restricting nursing program enrollments. In 2007, U.S. schools of nursing turned away 41,285 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs due to insufficient number of faculty. Unfilled faculty positions, resignations, projected retirements, and the shortage of students being prepared for faculty positions pose a threat to the nursing education workforce over the next five years.
- With fewer new nurses entering the profession, the average age of the RN is climbing. In February 2007, The Federal Division of Nursing released the average age of RNs in March 2004 was 46.8 yrs; in 2000, the average RN age was 45.2. The RN population under the age of 30 dropped from 9.0% of the nursing population in 2000 to 8.0% in 2004.
- The total population of registered nurses is growing at a slow rate. The RN shortage is 8 percent now and is projected to be 46 percent by 2020 if nothing is done to expand the capacity of nursing schools (Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, JCAHO).
- 78 million Baby Boomers are going to put unprecedented demand on the healthcare system with the 65 and older population growing by 54 percent between 2000 and 2020 ( U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau). A serious shortage of nurses is expected and the future demand for nurses is expected to increase dramatically as the baby boomers reach their 60s and beyond. Many of these Baby Boomers are experienced nursing professionals who have taken on administration and education roles. However, they too will be retiring and there is no one to replace them.
- Insufficient staffing increase stress levels, impacts job satisfaction, and as a result, many nurses are forced to leave the profession. Dr. Peter Buerhaus reports that greater than 75% of RNs believe the nursing shortage directly effects the quality of their work, the quality of patient care, and the amount of time nurses can spend with patients. Almost all surveyed nurses see the shortage in the future as a catalyst for increasing stress on nurses (98%), lowering patient care quality (93%) and causing nurses to leave the profession (93%). March-April 2005 Nursing Economics.
- According to another study by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association, Oct 2002), nurses reported greater job dissatisfaction and emotional exhaustion when they were responsible for more patients than they could safely care for.
- High nurse turnover and vacancy rates are affecting access to health care. In March 2005, the Bernard Hodes Group released the results of a national poll of 138 health care recruiters and found that the average RN turnover rate was 13.9%, the vacancy rate was 16.1% and the average RN cost-per-hire was $2,821.
Below is graph on the current and future status of the nursing shortage in the US. As you can see, the demand for RNs will contiue to far exceed the supply of RNs. Evidently, something needs to change or health care will be in a more dire situation.
Creativity Interventions as a strategy to address the nursing shortage – in the next post 🙂