THE HEALTHCARE ISSUE/STRESSOR
June 8, 2019 Off All,
The United States faces a nursing shortage crisis which has become a stressor on the entire healthcare system. This nursing shortage has been exacerbated by the recent changes in the healthcare system including the enactment and implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, as well as the aging of the baby boomer generation needing more healthcare services (Marshall & Broome, 2017). Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a surplus of 340,000 nurses in the year 2025, this projection changes from state to state. Another alarming threat is the projected nursing faculty shortage which makes the nursing surplus projected in the coming years questionable, if nothing is done to stop this trend (Marshall & Broome, 2017). IMPACT ON MY WORK SETTING I work at two different hospitals, one known for its Women’s Center. I work at the High Risk Perinatal unit, part of the Labor & Delivery (L & D) unit and the second is a Behavioral Health Hospital. Both workplaces have been impacted by the nursing shortages. Nurses in Georgia are paid 4% less than the national average (PayScale, n.d.). Georgia is also not leading on the nurse-patient ratio debate. In light of these, most of Georgia’s nurses are turning to travel nursing to earn more money. Last year, 30 L& D nurses in my hospital quit to go to California which pays much higher wages and gives stipends to travel nurses. This tremendously affected our hospital, leading management to give incentives to nurses for them to stay long hours including offering “Base + $15” every time units were short-staffed. Most nurses took advantage of these incentives and worked overtime every week but complained that they felt guilt-tripped or compelled to stay another 4 or 8 hours to help out. In the end, nurses felt burned out, fatigued, sometimes making medication errors. Over at the Behavioral health hospital, the story did not change. Even though there was not that huge exodus of nurses at one time, the nursing shortage has led to inadequate staffing on the various units that has also led to high turnover, as nurses feel unsafe, drained, while also experiencing workplace violence from patients. Stimpfel, Sloane, & Aiken (2012) reiterated this in their article stating “When a three-day week turns into more days or additional, unplanned-for overtime, nurses’ satisfaction appears to decrease” (Stimpfel, Sloane & Aiken, 2012).