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Shortage and Its Impact on Nursing


There are many contemporary trends that impact nursing in a variety of ways: new kinds of therapy, education, ethical diversity, etc. Still, nursing turnover remains to be one of the most burning and influential concepts nowadays. Though the reasons and outcomes vary considerably from those that have been identified several years ago, the necessity to investigate and remove this problem is evident. There are many hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities that suffer from shortages in nursing and cannot find an appropriate substitute for this kind of profession (Baker, 2009). There are also cases that the nursing shortage that may increase the mortality rates. Therefore, the nursing shortage has to be discussed from a number of perspectives to comprehend its essence, drivers, and outcomes and learn how the identification of such factors as education, job satisfaction, and the true worth of nursing as a profession defines the level of the nursing shortage and influence the sphere of nursing in general.

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Nursing Shortage’s Essence and Drivers

Many researchers admit that it is a very difficult task to give one certain definition of the nursing shortage as it is usually defined in relation to a particular country’s staff level, available resources, and demand for healthcare services (Littlejohn, Campbell, Collins-McNeil, & Khayile, 2012). In a broad meaning, shortage in nursing is a condition when the demand for nurses is higher than the supply. Hospitals or other facilities just cannot find the required number of professional nurses to complete their duties and provide patients and doctors with the necessary services and assistance. Though many people still believe that a profession of a nurse is not significant and has to be considered as an emerging type of work only, it is hard to imagine a hospital without a nurse. Nowadays, public opinion plays a significant role, and more people do not want to regard nursing as their future career. Unfortunately, it is not the only driver of the nursing shortage that influences the sphere of nursing and medicine overall. Investigations prove that the nursing shortage may be explained by the too high expectations from education, the importance of job satisfaction and the insurance about the choice made, fears about the unstable economic situation and the stresses (Turner, 2007) and the existing nursing turnover that makes nurses put their job decisions under a question (Littlejohn et al., 2012). Though all these problems and doubts do take place in nursing, the concept of shortage needs to be solved and improved. Healthcare is not complete and effective if the nursing shortage and turnover continue to grow.

Importance of Education

Nowadays, people, who want to be a part of the nursing sphere, should have access to education in regards to their skills, abilities, and rights. It is not only necessary to pass through some entrance exams. It is more important to believe in the importance of education and the chances that become available for future nurses. The nursing shortage and education are the two closely connected concepts: the way how nursing is taught defines the way how nurses can work. For example, Toh, Ang, and Devi (2012) explain that “with regard to levels of educational qualification, oncology nurses with higher qualifications were more inclined to express their desire to leave the specialty or profession compared to a diploma or degree holders” (p. 133).

In fact, the connection between education and the nursing shortage is of double nature. On the one hand, the nursing shortage may be explained by people’s inabilities to get a good portion of nursing education any place they want and be provided with further employment. On the other hand, nurses with higher education are not ready to spend much time in the same position. Many nurses prefer to become doctors and change their working places. The result is evident – the nursing shortage is developing. Therefore, the nursing shortage problem is hard to change as soon as the problem of poor education is solved, the inability to make nurses stay takes place. Certain improvements should be made in the sphere of nursing management to prove that a profession of a nurse is respected, appreciated, and paid accordingly. It is not very difficult to promote changes in nursing and try to decrease the level of nursing taking considerable steps and combining theory and practice at the same time.

Job Satisfaction

The nursing shortage is also predetermined by the level of job satisfaction. In case nurses are not satisfied with the working conditions and salary and suffer from stresses and a kind of burnout, they are eager to change work (Littlejohn et al., 2012). This leads to a shortage in nursing. However, it is not the final outcome produced by job dissatisfaction. Nurses are eager to share their experiences by a variety of means. For example, people can find more information about the real-life nursing experience via the Internet (specialized forums and charts) and from newspapers. Job dissatisfaction is considered to be a real problem in many hospitals. In addition to the fact that the nursing shortage is explained by this kind of dissatisfaction, it may be also promoted by people’s unwillingness to have the same bad experience. It is not enough to improve working conditions for nurses. It is also necessary to consider the quality of information about nursing offered via different sources. People should know more about the benefits of nursing, learn how important nursing is for healthcare, and understands that healthcare services cannot be of a high quality in case nurses are not able to perform their roles properly. The nursing shortage may be decreased in case nurses are satisfied with their work and are also able to share their experience and importance in a complicated system of healthcare. When the changes connected with job satisfaction take place, nursing shortage becomes not only a burning problem for many hospitals, and the managers should have more time to think about the improvement of the existing nursing community and promote beneficial changes in nursing in regards to the nurses’ demands and expectations.

Benefits and Negative Aspects of the Nursing Shortage

The presence of the nursing shortage is usually characterized by a number of negative effects and outcomes: people cannot be provided with qualified nurses’ services in time, patients cannot be sure of the quality of help offered by nurses, and people are not free to choose nursing as their leading profession because of its weak financial situation. The nursing shortage is the evidence that something goes wrong with the system (Turner, 2007). It is a sign that people stop understanding how crucial the role of nurses actually is. People make themselves weak when they cannot do anything to eliminate the shortage.

At the same time, the nursing shortage may be regarded as a trend that contributes to nursing in some way. If people do not want to take nursing positions, there are reasons that have to be analyzed and worked out. It is a kind of work that has to be promoted by specialists in the sphere of healthcare management, for example. This necessity requires the development of new working places. Then, the implementation of innovations begins. A number of people are necessary to check the effectiveness of the ideas offered. It is also a kind of contribution to nursing and a chance to re-evaluate the whole situation and create the most appropriate conditions in the sphere of healthcare taking into consideration the demands of ordinary patients and nurses at the same time.

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In general, the nursing shortage is the already-identified problem by many researchers. People are aware of its negative aspects and try to do their best to improve the sphere of nursing. The shortage is not an accidental process that takes place without the reasons. As a rule, there are many preceding factors that lead to people’s decision not to contribute to the sphere of nursing or change the already chosen paths. The contemporary trend of shortage impacts nursing in a number of ways. However, there are also many ways how to decrease the level of the nursing shortage, and all these steps have to be taken regarding regional, professional, and staffing peculiarities on a chosen facility. Still, it is necessary to remember that even in case a number of precautionary methods are taken into consideration, the nursing shortage remains to be a problem in healthcare because it cannot be totally eliminated in all countries at once.


Baker, A. (2009). Advanced practice nursing: Essential knowledge for the profession. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Littlejohn, L., Campbell, J., Collins-McNeil, J., & Khayile, T. (2012). The nursing shortage: A comparative analysis. International Journal of Nursing, 1(1), 22-27.

Toh, S.G., Ang, E., & Devi, K. (2012). A systematic review on the relationship between the nursing shortage and job satisfaction, stress and burnout levels among nurses in oncology/hematology settings. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare, 10(2), 126-141.

Turner, S.O. (2007). The nursing career planning guide. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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