There are about 4 million nurses right now, and the country needs more than a million new nurses to stay afloat, which shows how severe this shortage is. Trying to figure out what’s causing the nursing shortage is another question, and the truth is there isn’t one clear answer. There are many answers, and five of them will be discussed here.
- Expensive Career Path
Nursing requires an extensive amount of knowledge that is obtained through college. Aspiring nurses can expect to pay $20,000 to $80,000 to earn the education necessary to be a nurse. Even on the low end, those are truly some unimaginable numbers for most regular people. Student debt is a significant problem young adults don’t want in their lives. There’s a shortage because people no longer see the value in borrowing that much money to earn a degree. A solution that seems to be growing in support is making college tuition-free for every American, no matter the career.
- Toxic Working Environment
More nurses are reporting a toxic workplace. They’re reporting all sorts of issues, from leadership mistrust to absenteeism, just to name a few things. Not trusting leadership can lead to conflict and resentment, which is not healthy for anyone. Absenteeism makes it harder for folks to rest as much as they should. This is forcing many hospitals to re-evaluate their job background check system to make sure they only hire reliable folks. Improving their background checks could lead to a more optimized workforce, which will help create a more efficient workplace. Nurses would love to work in that kind of environment.
- Low Wage Compensation
Nurses are paid well, but there’s room for growth. A growing number of people think a nurse’s salary is not nearly enough. People are just tired of working hard and still needing a few additional income streams to live a typical American life. One job with regular hours should provide a working person with enough money to live comfortably, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Wage compensation doesn’t seem to reflect today’s cost of living. This is true about the compensation nurses are receiving, but it’s also true for other workers. The shortage is forcing some hospitals and clinics to increase their pay. Nurses should ignore low-paying jobs so that pay goes up. It’s also important to join unions.
- Aging Population
The baby boomer population is still one of the largest population blocks. It represents many people, and that generation is aging rapidly. They’re aging so quickly that it’s one of the factors accelerating the nursing shortage problem that the country is facing. This issue might seem impossible to deal with because not much can be done about an aging population. Again, one of the best ways to address this particular problem is to help young people become nurses, but getting them interested seems nearly impossible. Pay has to get better, and college education will likely have to become free. People need to start looking at this as an investment in the country.
- Not Enough Educators
Nursing school faculty is essential. They’re supposed to help train the next generation of nurses, yet there’s a shortage of them, too. Ensuring the country has enough educators is vital, but they need to get paid well for that to happen. Like many other educators, insufficient wage compensation forces good educators to quit their jobs because it’s not bringing in enough for them to live comfortably. Educators need attractive perks and much more because they’re a vital component in the fight against the nursing shortage.
It’s important to point out that these are just some of the factors affecting the shortage, but others are there. Hopefully, the nursing shortage is effectively addressed before it becomes more of a crisis than it already is.