U.S Health Care-The Nursing Crisis
AmericaÆs healthcare system is suffering from the combine impact of declining nursing admissions and the graying of the nursing workforce. By 2010, a study conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) concludes that ômore than 40% of currently working registered nurses will be 50 or older by the end of this decadeö (Nursing, 2003, 28). Declining enrollment numbers at nursing schools, a lack of minority and male representation among nurses and 126,000 unfilled nursing positions in hospitals nationwide exist at a time when an aging baby boomer population is placing increasing demand on the healthcare system (Nursing, 2003). Such demographic trends have a potentially significant impact on patient care.
Studies in hospitals across the nation have concluded that a shortage of nurses has a direct and deleterious impact on patient care. One study on Pennsylvania hospitals found that ôeach additional patient assigned to a nurseÆs workload resulted in a 7 percent increasing in the likelihood that the patient would die within 30 days of admission to the hospitalö (Perez, 2003, 10). An already overworked and aging nursing workforce is not being supported by an incoming younger generation of nurses. Many nursing positions remain unfilled in hospitals across the nation as nursing schools continue to exhibit declining enrollment. Just as this crisis is beginning to have a serious impact on healthcare, over the next few years AmericaÆs 80 million or so baby boomers will begin making enormous demands on the system. Tragically, the situation is already responsible for an increased number of deaths at hospital throughout the nation. According to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), a ôshortage of nursing staff nationwide is contributing to hospital deathsö (Nursing, 2003, 28).
Should the nursing shortage and aging nursing workforce issues challenging the healthcare system continue without resol…