Thursday, October 13, 2011


This is a reply from a Nurse from a student nurse asking about the current problems of our Nurses Today.

1. Lack of common ground for educational standards to enter nursing. Most professions have a common entry-level standard that defines them as a profession. For example, in order to be a dietitan, you must possess a minimum of a bachelor's degree, same for lawyer, teacher, etc. For nursing, there is no real common entry-level and this causes a great deal of confusion to young people looking at nursing as a professional career path. In addition, other health care disciplines have increased their educational standards to meet the increasing technology available in health care, yet nursing continues to have no common thread in relationship to education for entry-level as a registered professional nurse. This issue is frustrating in that it causes great stress for nurses as they are deeply divided on entry-level themselves. Do a search on this board and you will find many hotly debated discussions on the topic. 

2. Lack of respect as a professional. Many nurses will claim that they receive little respect from other health care providers, including physicians, administrators and in some cases even advanced practice nurses . As a result of this direct lack of respect, nurses view their voice as limited in health care. Nurses today are placed in some of the most dangerous positions in relationship to providing care to patients. Nurses in some hospitals have far too many patients to safely care for. Nurses have limited voices with administrators and many nurses feel that the only way to have a voice is to join a union, which is not necessarily the answer. 

3. As health care advances and technology improves, the overall cost of health care is escalating. Nurses believe that their wages do not fairly compensate for the the service they perform. It really is a sad note on society when a famous football player earns millions of dollars, but the nurse caring for your mother and holding the security of her life is compensated less than $45,000 per year in most cases :angryfire . Decreases in benefits (decreased contributions to 401(k), elimination of retirement pensions, etc.), increasing costs of health care insurance and no loyality by employers to promote long term employment relationships all add to the lack of security that nurses have with their jobs. 

4. America is increasingly becoming more litigious and nurses are being named in lawsuits. This alarming trend will only increase in the future without proper government intervention. As lawsuits increase in numbers and awards to plaintiffs are outrageous, overall health care costs are going to increase. Many people looking at nursing as a viable career choice are thinking twice about the option without tort reform and reform of the current system.

5. All of the above contribute to the lack of nurses willing to work at the patient's bedside. Many studies have shown that there is really no true nursing shortage, rather, there is a direct lack of willingness for registered nurses to work in these increasingly compromising situations. This adds to the shortage. Couple the shortage with an aging population and you have a true disaster in nursing on the horizon. 2008 will be the first year that the baby boomers will begin reaching retirement. Government reports predict that the overall cost on the social security system will be overwhelming, not to mention Medicare. Nurses will be on the front line dealing with aging baby boomers .... How will the profession meet the challenges that it will face? Not sure I can answer this.

6. But still, I think there is hope and I pray that as we move into the future, someone or something will engage nurses to unite and speak with one common voice for reform to health care and better standards for patient care as well as better working conditions for nurses. California began this process with mandated nurse to patient ratios. If California can initiate such reform, why can't this reform spread across the country? It can and when nurses begin to realize that they have one of the most powerful voices in the country, only then will WE as a professional body be able to demand and see change for our patients and for our working conditions. As a student in nursing, you are on the front line also and you can be part of that powerful voice. The future is not all doom and gloom for us, it can indeed be very bright and enriched and wonderful if we all come together and work to change our profession from a weak sub-servant occupation, to a profession that is strong, vocal with conviction and able to provoke change for the future.