More Online Nursing Degrees Are Being Offered to Meet the Acute Shortage of Nurses

Nursing is a rapidly growing profession and a promising career pathway in the US, but there is an acute shortage of competent nurses throughout the country. The rapidly aging population, lack of well-designed nursing programs, and various other factors are contributing to this crisis. However, the healthcare industry is dependent upon competent nurses to provide the standard quality of patient care. Therefore, it is crucial to address this issue to find sustainable long-term solutions that don’t leave the industry on the brink of collapse.

Graduation

Graduation

There are plenty of job vacancies for nurses in the US, but there are not enough nurses to fill those vacancies. One way to solve the problem of nurse shortage is by offering accelerated or online nursing degree programs so that more students can conveniently pursue this career pathway and quickly enter the workforce.

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This article will discuss the reasons for the nurse shortage, its effects on the healthcare system, and if we can tackle the problem by offering more online nursing degree programs.

Why is there a shortage of nurses?

The US healthcare industry has been facing a shortage of nurses for several years now, and this shortage will continue to grow if immediate actions are not taken. Various reasons are causing an increased demand for nurses and a shortage of competent nurses. Some of them are as follows;

1.      Lack of efficient nursing degree programs

Nursing schools have failed to design efficient degree programs that can keep up with the demand for professionals at an advanced level. More efficient programs, like an online BSN to FNP degree program, are needed to help curb the situation.

2.      Aging Population

The baby boomer population is aging rapidly, and many of them require healthcare services for different purposes. Some even require long-term care at home. Overall, their need for healthcare will increase while the number of nurses has not increased. Therefore, an increased nurse shortage in the future can be expected.

3.      Lack of Instructors

There are not enough nurses dedicated to educating the next generation of nurses. Most nurses choose to practice their profession, and very few choose to pursue advanced degrees in nursing to enter the world of academia. Overall, a lack of experienced instructors has also promoted the shortage of nurses in the US.

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4.      Burnout

Challenging working conditions like long hours of work and lesser autonomy can easily lead to burnout and prompt the need to switch professions. Therefore, a bad work environment is also contributing to the nursing shortage.

5.      Aging Workforce

The current generation of experienced nurses is growing old. According to the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, more than 51% of the current nursing workforce is above forty. Many of them will retire in a few years, further reducing the number of nurses in the workforce.

What are the effects of the nurse shortage problem?

The nurse shortage problem has impacted patients, healthcare workers, and hospitals. Some of the effects include;

1.      Low-quality patient care

The nurse shortage problem has negatively impacted the quality of patient care provided at healthcare institutes. The high nurse-to-patient ratio can lead to mistakes and low quality of care. The shortage of nurses has put more burden of work on the current nurses increasing the chances of burnout. Moreover, a bad working environment can also result in sub-standard patient care.

Read Also: The Plight of Nurses: Essential Yet Overworked, and Underpaid

2.      Hospitals are also suffering

The nurse shortage problem has also placed a financial burden on hospitals. Hospitals have to pay competitive salaries and other benefits to recruit and hold on to experienced and competent nurses. According to some professionals, hospitals are paying double the hourly wage they were previously paying. Overall, the nurse shortage problem is financially impacting the healthcare facilities too.

3.      Patient mortality increases

Several studies predict that the patient mortality rate has increased due to nurse shortage. Short-staffed nurses at a hospital are overworked and more prone to making medication errors that can consequently increase patient mortality rates. According to an NCBI article, an adequate number of registered nurses working at a healthcare facility significantly reduce the risk of patient mortality.

How can we solve this problem?

Various effective measures can help solve the problem of nurse shortage. We can solve this problem by;

  • Offering incentives to nurse educators so better instructors are available to teach and train the next generation of nurses.
  • Providing financial aid to nurses so that more of them pursue advanced degrees without worrying about the cost. Scholarships and grants can also help them pay for nursing school.
  • Providing training opportunities to encourage nurses to pursue leadership roles in the healthcare industry.
  • Additionally, offering online nursing degrees can significantly help curb the problem of nurse shortage.

How can offering online nursing degrees help solve the problem of nurse shortage?

Online nursing degrees provide easy access to education that encourages more students to pursue this career pathway. They are also convenient for students working a job or struggling with other commitments in life. Universities and colleges can design accelerated distance learning programs so that a significant number of nursing students can graduate and become part of the workforce.

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For example, the University of Arkansas for medical sciences has launched a 15-month BSN program. Similarly, Marian university’s accelerated BSN programs enable nurses to serve at the front lines within 16 months.

The Bottom Line

Nurse shortage is a grave issue in the US healthcare system. It has several negative implications. It can increase patient mortality rates, lower the quality of patient care, and put a financial strain on the hospitals. Several factors are contributing to the shortage of nurses—from a lack of efficient nursing degree programs to a rapidly aging population, burnout caused by overworking, a bad work environment, an aging nursing workforce, and a lack of competent nurse instructors.

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The problem of nurse shortage needs to be solved as soon as possible to provide standard quality of care and achieve good patient outcomes. Different approaches by the government, healthcare institutes, and universities can help solve this crisis. Offering online and accelerated nursing degree programs can help put more and more nurse graduates into the workforce in a short time. Therefore, offering more online nursing degrees can help meet the acute shortage of nurses.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493175/

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