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Recently, the American Nurses Association (ANA) released the results of an ongoing survey of nurses across the U.S., and the findings are grim. The survey received more than 15,000 responses from nursing professionals, and an alarming number of respondents reported insufficient staffing and a decline of care. Specifically, 50% of nurses say they would “not feel confident” having a loved one receive treatment in the facility they work in, and a shocking 72% believe that the staffing in their unit is insufficient. The staffing insufficiency has taken the largest toll on nurses – most are rarely afforded a full meal break and many have been forced to take on additional duties. Over half are considering leaving their current position, and nearly a quarter are considering leaving nursing all together.

For too long, nurses have been overworked and underappreciated. And in today’s health care climate, nurses have just as much impact on patient care as doctors. The ANA has launched a grassroots campaign entitled “Safe Staffing Saves Lives” to help better the work environment for nurses. A fitting name, the campaign focuses on the importance of adequate staffing in the health care industry. To date, 12 states – CA, CA, CT, IL, ME, NV, NJ, OH, OR, RI, TX, VT, WA – and the District of Columbia have adopted regulations addressing nursing staffing. But for many hospitals in Florida, there simply aren’t enough nurses to meet demand. One such example is Tampa General Hospital – which alone has 53 nursing positions open at the time of writing this. And the Florida Center for Nursing forecasts that the shortage is going to continue to grow.

There are a lot of things that need to be done to improve the state of patient care in America. The first step to any successful medical unit is adequate staffing. While some hospitals take the necessary steps to recruit an adequate staff, many others try to get by with the bare minimum. This bare-bones business model has taken its toll on nurses, and surely has taken its toll on patient care. A shortage of nurses can likely be linked in part due to the poor work environment nurses are subjected to daily. The nursing profession has one of the highest turnovers of any industry. And with 25% of those surveyed considering leaving nursing all together, it becomes a downward spiral that will only get worse unless something radical is done to better handle staffing shortages.

3 Comments

  1. Gravatar for JILL PAUL RN

    Don, Florida RN's are grossly underpaid compared to other States. If they upped the pay scale significantly in Florida, there would not be 52 openings at the Tampa General. They also need to put a cap on the number of patients that one RN can handle, as they do here in California. Your statement "Nurses have just as much impact on patient care as Doctors", is just wrong. We are with the Patients 24/7, we are the eyes and ears for Doctor's who might spend 10 - 15 minutes/day with the patient. We are the patient's advocate - we are the ones who call the Doctor (in his absence) requesting orders to benefit the health and welfare of his patient. Our job is enormous and most often, under appreciated by the public at large. We are the ones who call the Doctor at 3am and bare the brunt of his irrational behaviour for doing so - all for the welfare of our patient. Give me a knowledgeable RN anyday and I know that I will have the best possible chance of returning to good health. Financial compensation goes a long way to enticing students into the health care profession. Today's youth are looking at the bottom line - not my consideration when I ventured into Nursing many years' ago.

  2. Gravatar for Catherine Orcutt
    Catherine Orcutt

    Nurses in VA are grossly underpaid as well. I think that is pretty much everywhere. We are overworked, underpaid , understaffed, abused, disrespected (also by our peers) and held responsible for everything that goes wrong. We ARE the lifeline of patients. MD's would not make it without Nurses. All States should have regulations addressing staffing. The bottom line today is not only with Nurses but with the Facilities, Doctors, Drug Companies etc. Care of the patient has gone away.I don't see this changing. If Obama gets his wish, we can say goodbye to good healthcare, let alone baseline healthcare and jobs. Maybe that is a rescue for me, because I am way beyond burned out. How can I recommend Nursing as a profession to anyone with the above description of treatment of Nurses. Life is too short for such a miserable profession!

  3. Gravatar for Jim Y

    It's not just the nursing industry. We see staffing in many areas where hospitals are overworking staff and not realizing that more staff actually helps them achieve their goals. We're geared mainly towards financial areas, but our consultants can see other areas lacking in sufficient staffing as well.

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