Workforce Shortages in Health Care
Workforce Shortages in Health Care
Adequate workforce is necessary in all organizations including the healthcare sector to ensure effective and efficient delivery of healthcare services (Cherry, 2016). The workforce is responsible for carrying out and implementing the organization’s strategies, which are aimed at achieving set goals and objectives (Cherry, 2016). Without an adequate workforce, organizations are not able to achieve their objectives. Having an inadequate workforce can also negatively impact an organization as the available employees may not be able to perform the required functions to ensure continued and improved productivity in the organization (Cherry, 2016). The healthcare sector has a required nurse to patient ratio to ensure that the public receives quality healthcare services. Lack of an adequate workforce in the healthcare sector will result in underperformance (Cherry, 2016).
Reasons for Workforce Shortages
Most of the health staff employees are retiring due to old age or resigning to pursue better opportunities in private organizations (Sedota ; Gardner-Webb University, 2017). With a small number of young individuals taking healthcare courses, the health care sector suffers shortages of healthcare employees as a result (Sedota ; Gardner-Webb University, 2017). This has resulted in an imbalance between new healthcare professionals entering the healthcare sector and those leaving the sector. This has led to a deficit in the sector with more healthcare professionals leaving the sector than the number joining the sector (Sedota ; Gardner-Webb University, 2017).
Due to the complex nature of the nursing profession with requirements that include working night shifts and providing care to very sick patients, the young individuals have resulted to selecting other types of professions, which are less complex, and not demanding (Sedota ; Gardner-Webb University, 2017). This has led to nursing shortage. The nursing profession also demands for a high level of education, which involves a master’s degree in addition to other accreditations. This is discouraging to the young individuals who want to join the profession (Sedota & Gardner-Webb University, 2017).
Ageing of the population is also attributed to nursing shortage. Due to the increased illnesses associated with an aging population, the increasing ageing population seeking medical attention negatively impacts the healthcare sector (Sedota & Gardner-Webb University, 2017). Due to the baby boomers, which resulted to an increased population between 1946 and 1964, there has been an increase in the aging population in the United States (Sedota & Gardner-Webb University, 2017). This has led to increased demand for health care services due to the associated chronic illnesses associated with the old age. The National Council on Aging has indicated a four out of five of the ageing population to have a chronic illness (Sedota & Gardner-Webb University, 2017). The current nurse population is unable to supply the required demand of healthcare services leading to a nursing shortage.
New Consumer Needs
With the advancement in technology in the healthcare sector, the consumer needs have drastically changed which have negatively impacted the workforce (Huston, 2014). With new techniques of providing care to patients, this has increased the demand for healthcare professionals with the current available workforce performing increased responsibilities to cater for the needs of the consumers’ new needs (Huston, 2014). In the job market, the needs of consumers should be considered as well as the needs of the employees. Healthcare employees play a major role in ensuring that the public receive health care services efficiently. Major stakeholders in the healthcare sector have failed to cater for the needs of the employees, which has resulted in most of the staff employees finding better opportunities (Huston, 2014). These new consumer needs require that nurses improve their educational and training knowledge which is discouraging to those already in the profession as well a those intending to join the profession (Huston, 2014).
Health care practitioners must be well skilled and updated on the current healthcare trends to enable them to perform their duties efficiently (Huston, 2014). With this requirement of continuous learning, majority of healthcare practitioners have left the profession in search of less demanding professions. With the increased demands of the new consumer’s needs, the healthcare workers have been negatively impacted with some working for long hours, which also leads to patients not being satisfied by the services they receive from the tired and overworked nurses (Huston, 2014). The growing population and the emerging lifestyle trends are also having an influence on the development of lifestyle related illnesses, which result in an increased demand for healthcare services. However, with fewer individuals joining the profession, this has resulted to a deficit of the nursing workforce leading to a nursing shortage (Huston, 2014).
Due to the current nursing shortages, the available nurses are overworking which is ultimately affecting their performance and their job satisfaction. For an efficient working environment, the workforce should be satisfied with their responsibilities to be able to perform their duties diligently and serve other clients of the organization (Sedota & Gardner-Webb University, 2017). This is the case in the healthcare sector where more attention is given to the consumers of healthcare services while neglecting the service providers (Sedota & Gardner-Webb University, 2017). Job satisfaction includes average responsibilities with good remuneration as well availability of basic amenities. Job satisfaction is aimed to motivate and encourage the health care workers in their job responsibilities (Sedota & Gardner-Webb University, 2017).
Due to the diversity of healthcare service provision, which may include provision of healthcare services in hardship areas, majority of the nurses are not satisfied in their current working conditions (Huston, 2014). This has led to some leaving their jobs to take care of their families or look for better options that are more considerate and flexible (Huston, 2014). Some of the healthcare policies are also demanding on the nursing workforce, which has resulted to more nurses quitting the profession for fear of the related consequences in case of a breach of laws or regulations (Huston, 2014). With the demand increase of healthcare services, majority of the healthcare workers do not have the required resources to enable provision of healthcare services, which should be provided by the healthcare facilities (Huston, 2014).
With an imbalance between the nurse to patient ratio, nurses are using most of their personal resources which include time and energy with some unable to sustain the high demands resulting in them looking for better options (Sedota & Gardner-Webb University, 2017). With the increased demand for healthcare services but no compensation to cover the overtime hours, nurses are changing to other professions, which are more considerate and accommodative. Lack of job satisfaction to nurses has resulted in healthcare workers migrating to other countries, which offer better remuneration, which has worsened the situation (Sedota & Gardner-Webb University, 2017).
Healthcare provision impacts all other aspect of the economy of a country and measures to address the nursing shortage will positively impact the country and other sectors of the economy (Buchan, Duffield, & Jordan, 2015). Without adequate healthcare provision, the country will face more challenges in its administration. Health care is one of the major objectives of all governments and strategies to address the nursing shortage should be implemented to prevent more chaos (Buchan, Duffield, & Jordan, 2015). One of the short-term solutions include acquiring external workforce from foreign countries with an influx of healthcare professionals (Buchan, Duffield, & Jordan, 2015). Some countries are not able to accommodate all students who have graduated from healthcare courses, which in result lead to majority of unemployed university graduates in the job market. The United States, which is a developed country, can acquire these students and offer them employment to the majority of healthcare facilities facing a huge deficit of healthcare workers (Buchan, Duffield, & Jordan, 2015).
This can resolve the pressing issue on nursing shortage as long-term strategies are being determined and implemented. Another short-term solution is the use of technology to enable an easier process of job identification by students who have graduated from the different universities undertaking healthcare courses (Buchan, Duffield, & Jordan, 2015). This will allow communities who live in remote areas have access to healthcare services as majority of health care professionals are discouraged to apply jobs in those areas due to the fear of hardships associated with those areas (Buchan, Duffield, & Jordan, 2015). The government can also provide and increase compensation to healthcare practitioners working in hardship areas. This will encourage healthcare practitioners who have crowded the urban and developed areas to fill empty positions in the hardship areas (Buchan, Duffield, & Jordan, 2015).
Long-term solutions are meant to provide permanent solutions to the nursing shortage (Bell, 2017). The government should increase the number of nursing schools, which will increase the number of students undertaking healthcare courses, which will improve the number of healthcare professionals in the country (Bell, 2017). The government can also provide internship opportunities to students who have graduated and later on incorporate them into the healthcare facilities which will avoid the long search process of jobs due to lack of experience by the graduates (Bell, 2017). The government can also implement strategies to bridge the gap between school and healthcare facilities by improving the accreditation and licensing process, which will encourage more students to take up medical courses (Bell, 2017).
Healthcare facilities should also be improved and expanded to accommodate more healthcare professionals as well as the rising demand for healthcare services (Bell, 2017). With a balance between the supply and demand of healthcare services, the issue of nursing shortage will be resolved (Bell, 2017). Creation of new healthcare facilities and equipping these facilities with the current technology and equipment will complement the small number of healthcare professionals. With current technology advancements, which are able to improve the performance of the few healthcare workers, they can be able to meet the rising demand for healthcare services (Bell, 2017).
Special Interest Group or Government Agency That Would Help You Write Policy to Solve the Problem
The World Health Organization has implemented strategies to address the worldwide shortages of nurses and other healthcare professionals (World Health Organization, 2013). Efforts by the WHO include hosting the Global Health Workforce Alliance, which has an aim of mobilizing major global stakeholders in the health sector. The alliance also helps determine strategies, which will help in better planning, educating, and providing employment opportunities to the students who have graduated (World Health Organization, 2013). The World Health Organization also provides monitoring functions to countries in the implementation process of strategies aimed at addressing the nursing shortages and other healthcare improvement strategies (World Health Organization, 2013).
Some of the strategies include improving the working conditions of the healthcare workers, which will increase their performance, and delivery of health care services to address the rising demand (World Health Organization, 2013). With these efforts aimed at solving the nurse to patient ratio, this organization would help me in writing a policy to solve the problem since its mission is to improve health globally and ensure effective delivery of healthcare services (World Health Organization, 2013).
For effective delivery of healthcare services, an adequate workforce is necessary and countries should implement strategies that address the rising demand of healthcare services (Cherry, 2016). These demands have been attributed to the rising population and the changing lifestyles, which have contributed to the increase of most communicable diseases (Cherry, 2016). With an imbalanced nurse to patient ratio, the quality of healthcare will be negatively affected which will affect the achievement of healthcare goals (Cherry, 2016). Since the governments are the major providers and financiers of health care services, it is their responsibility to ensure that the citizens of their countries have access to quality health care, as health care is one of the basic needs of all individuals (Cherry, 2016).
Bell, D. (2017). Healthcare Leadership Practices: How to conquer nursing shortages by improving engagement and retention. S.l.: Higgins Publishing.
Buchan, J., Duffield, C., and Jordan, A. (2015). ‘Solving’ nursing shortages: do we need a New Agenda? Journal of Nursing Managers, (23), 543–545.
Cherry, B. (2016). Contemporary nursing: Issues, trends, & management. Mosby.
Huston, C. J. (2014). Professional issues in nursing: Challenges & opportunities. Baltimore, MD; Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Sedota, R., & Gardner-Webb University. (2017). The nursing shortage in the United States: Past, present, and future. Boiling Springs, North Carolina: Gardner-Webb University.
World Health Organization. (2013). Media Centre. A Universal Truth: No Health without a Workforce. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/workforcealliance/knowledge/resources/GHWA-a_universal_truth_report.pdf