Nursing Shortage

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Nursing Shortage

Nursing Shortage


Growth in demand for nurses change the supply, and, together with changing demographic patterns in the nursing workforce, a nursing shortage is experienced in the Canadian Hospitals. In an increasingly interconnected world, the movement of people and information across international borders has become a occurrence that is frequently presupposed. This paper discusses why does Canada experience nursing shortages in the Canadian healthcare and how can we address this issue?


The nursing profession faces challenges and opportunities in coming years. The major reason for recurrent nurse shortages is the cyclic pattern of nurse wages. As nurse wages stagnated, the rate of return on a nursing career fell and enrollments in nursing schools declined, as did numbers of graduates. With a reduced supply of nurses and an increased acuity level of patients, hospitals eventually found that they could not attract as many nurses as they wanted at the current nurse wage rate, and nurse vacancy rates increased. Each of these shortages was resolved when nurse wages increased; nursing school enrollments increased, older nurses reentered the workforce, and a greater number of foreign-trained nurses immigrated to the United States, all of which expanded the supply of nurses. The aging of the nurse workforce is likely to result in a smaller supply of nurses over the next two decades, unless there is increased immigration of foreign-trained nurses and expanded nursing school capacity. (Rice, 2009)

Nurses are key members of the healthcare team. Understanding how best to deploy nurses while balancing quality and costs is an important ongoing function for healthcare administrators that may be especially challenging during periods of nursing shortage, when adequate numbers and types of nurses needed to ensure the delivery of safe, high-quality care may be in short supply. This chapter provides an overview of important tools and techniques that calculate nurse workload, and it presents examples to illustrate these calculations. Use of these tools and techniques aids in the routine planning of patient care delivery, development of unit and organizational budgets, and the equitable distribution of nursing staff. More importantly, however, use of these practices will foster the creation of an environment that increases nurse job satisfaction and well-being and that decreases the stress and burnout often associated with high workloads and inadequate staffing. Over the long run, sensitivity to nurse workload and staffing issues will contribute to the delivery of high-quality patient care, the formation of high-performing patient care teams, and improvements in overall organizational performance.

Although the recession is stimulating nurse supply, it also is depressing the demand for nurses from healthcare employers. Hospitals, the major employers of nurses, face declining revenues from fewer admissions and more uncompensated care. As a result, nurse positions are not growing or are being reduced. Given the increase in nurse supply and drop in nurse demand, the nursing shortage has disappeared in some areas, with nurse vacancy rates as low as zero to 3 percent. In fact, by early 2009 there was anecdotal evidence that many hospitals had more nurse ...
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