Nursing shortage and social justice

Nursing shortage and social justice


In the United States, the largest group of healthcare professionals comprises of registered nurses.  The vacancy for registered nurses in the United States is now approximate 7.2%. The demand for nurses in community and hospitals has continued to grow over the last five years. Projection shows that the demand of this group of healthcare professional will be approximate 16% by the year 2024. The demand for nurses is attributed by various factors(Johnson, Butler, Harootunian, Wilson, &Linan, 2016)  The increase in aging population in the United States has caused a high demand of healthcare professionals. This is because the older population has more health complications compared to the younger generation. Nurses are required to educate as well as to care for senior citizens, especially those suffering from chronic illness such as obesity, diabetes, and arthritis among others.

Description of the problem

The factors contributing to the shortages are multifaceted. The problem often begins in the shortage of faculty and this turns away thousands of prospective students who are interested in pursuing their career in nursing(Lin, Zhang, & Dixon, 2015). Additionally, the steep growth of the population in several States in the United States has also contributed to these shortages. Patients Protection and Affordable care Act has also contributed to this increase through increasing the access to medical and affordable care. More so, a good number of registered nurses are retiring without adequate plan to replace them. It should be noted that the population of the older people is higher compared to the population of the young. More nurses are required to facilitate the provision of primary care and this has left a gap regarding healthcare provision for older people with chronic diseases.  The demographic alterations cause  workforce expansion without considering the time taken to educate and train healthcare professionals associated with these changes (Masselink& Jones, 2014). The shortage of faculty is considere

d as the reason why shortage of nurses and healthcare profession in the United States is increasing over the past years. It takes time and effort to educate and train healthcare professionals including nurses. Educators and professors in medical schools and nursing schools in the United States are also paid low salaries. Most of them end up to practice medicine, as well as doing research.

Disparities created by the problem

Nurses are required to aid in the provision of healthcare services in the hospital and other healthcare settings in the United States. The shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals has affected the equality of  access to healthcare services in the United States. Few nurses are available to serve in hospitals in minority groups (Sood, Alpert, Barnes, Huckfeldt, &Escarce, 2015). Most county hospitals have fewer nurses serving a growing number of patients as compared to the private hospital. The cost of care has increased significantly because the hospital administrations are obliged to hire more nurses to ensure smooth provision of medical and healthcare services in the United States. The patients who have to pay more to obtain the needed healthcare service (Parker & Hill, 2017) cater for the cost of hiring nurses and other health professionals. The access to medical and healthcare services is affected by the shortage of nurses in the United States.  Low-income earners in the United States are not able to access the needed medical and healthcare services in the United States because of the shortages. Fewer nurses in these areas are available to serve a larger population. These have therefore affected the accessibility to healthcare services significantly. In nursing homes, the elderly people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes are left to care for themselves because of inadequacy of nurses. The federal and national government of the United States prioritizes primary health care and this has left the tertiary care with inadequate healthcare professionals and nurses. The same problem affects the provision of mental healthcare services in the United States, where there are inadequate  mental health care professionals.

The population most affected by the problem

In the United States, the population of the elderly and aging is high. This is associated with the increase in healthcare problems and complication affecting the old. According to the CDC data, one in four Americans aged 65 years and above suffers one or more chronic illnesses. The most common long-term illness affecting  this population is type two diabetes (CDC, 2015). Patients with diabetes require self-management and self-management support services aimed at enabling them to control their blood sugars (Parker & Hill, 2017,). It is the responsibility of nurses to educate them on how to manage their blood sugars. Inadequacy of nurses in the country has therefore affected the provision of these essential services to the senior citizens with chronic illnesses. In the United States, approximate 71% of the healthcare expenditure  is used on patients with one or more long-term illness such as obesity or diabetes. The states and the federal government spends a lot of money that could otherwise be  used to educate and train healthcare professionals.

The current healthcare policies

In the United States, the shortage of nurses is contributedto  by many factors. Therefore, single policies cannot be used to combat the problem. The government of the United States has increased the faculty and number of nursing schools. More registered nurses have been employed to cater for the needs of the patients. More nurses have been allocated in various nursing homes with the aim of combating the need for nursing care for elderly with chronic illness. Much needs tobe done to combat the shortage of nurses in the country (Minnick, Norman, &Donaghey, 2017). More policies need to be put in place to ensure that more nurses are employed in primary, secondary as well as tertiary health care. More nurses should be deployed in county hospitals to ensure that middle income and low-income earners can access the neededhealth  care.

The impact of the policies and what need to be improved

The nursing schools production capacity is lagging behind and this calls for the need of foreign educators in the country. In the United States, about 8% of the registered nurses are foreigners. Most of the nurses originate from the Philippines and lower income earner- countries. The effort to employ foreign nurses has not been successful in the United States and much more needs to be accomplished.

The measures employed to combat nursing shortage in the country has not been very successful. Much more needs  to be done. For example, the States government needs  to increase revenue allocated to ensure that more nurses are educated and trained. Additionally, more nurses should be trained to assists and educate patients with long-term illnesses in the United States (Masselink& Jones, 2014). The government should increase the salary and general payments of professors in nursing faculties involved in the training of medical students including nurses. The government should also try and balance the distribution of nurses in community and county hospitals in the United States. The short term and long term objectives need to be set to ensure that the problem of  shortage of nurses in the United States is combated. The shortage of nurses has affected the accessibility and equality in access to healthcare in the United States.






Johnson, W. G., Butler, R., Harootunian, G., Wilson, B., &Linan, M. (2016). Registered Nurses: The Curious Case of a Persistent Shortage. Journal of Nursing Scholarship48(4), 387-396. doi:10.1111/jnu.12218

Lin, V., Zhang, X., & Dixon, P. (2015). Occupational Therapy Workforce in the United States: Forecasting Nationwide Shortages. PM&R7(9), 946-954. doi:10.1016/j.pmrj.2015.02.012

Masselink, L. E., & Jones, C. B. (2014). Immigration policy and internationally educated nurses in the United States: A brief history. Nursing Outlook62(1), 39-45. doi:10.1016/j.outlook.2013.10.012

Minnick, A. F., Norman, L. D., &Donaghey, B. (2017). Junior research track faculty in U.S. schools of nursing: Resources and expectations. Nursing Outlook65(1), 18-26. doi:10.1016/j.outlook.2016.09.004

Parker, J. M., & Hill, M. N. (2017). A review of advanced practice nursing in the United States, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), China. International Journal of Nursing Sciences. doi:10.1016/j.ijnss.2017.01.002

Sood, N. S., Alpert, A., Barnes, K., Huckfeldt, P., &Escarce, J. (2015). Effects of Payment Reform in More versus Less Competitive Markets. doi:10.3386/w21654



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