Nursing shortage in America

Nursing shortage in America


The shortage of nursing professionals in the United States of America is an undeniable fact. In fact, this problem not only faces this country, it continues to be a challenge for every other country in the world (Hansen 34). Nurses play a very significant part in the use of medication. Their role includes the administration, monitoring for side effects, and offering leadership at the workplace with respect to use of medication and the improvement of patient care (Buerhaus et al 65). Medical students must be conversant with the nature of medication errors, discover the hazards pertaining to the use of medication, and the steps that can be taken to ensure safe administration of drugs. All medical practitioners involved in medication use are obliged to working together in order to mitigate the harm that medication use may cause to patients.


It is important for medical students and other medical practitioners to understand properly the steps involved in the use of medication. Medication use has several discrete steps. The main three steps are; prescription, administration, and monitoring. Patients, together with other health professionals, have a role in each of the three steps. For instance, patients may self-prescribe over-the-counter drugs, and do the administration and monitoring on their own to observe if the medications have any therapeutic effects. In the same manner, doctors, in a hospital setting, may prescribe medication. Nurses will be charged with the administration of the medication while a different doctor may monitor the progress of the patient and make decisions regarding the ongoing medication regimen (Feldman 76).

These are all very important duties, hence when the nursing personnel is insufficient, a room for many errors is created. For instance, every step in the process of prescription, administration, and monitoring has the potential for error, which can occur in several ways. Errors in prescription may include inadequate knowledge on the drug contraindications, indications, and drug interaction. Prescription errors may also result from failure to consider individual patient aspects that would change prescribing such as pregnancy, allergies, co-morbidities such as renal stultification, and the patient’s use of other medications (Williams & Wilkins 123). With respect to administration, errors may include administering drugs to the wrong patient, using the wrong method or drug, in incorrect doses, and at the incorrect time. Other errors in drug administration include complete failure to give a prescribed drug and errors in documentation. For instance, medication may be administered but not recorded as having being given. In this case, another staff member may inadvertently administer it for the second time.

Such errors result from poor communication, lapses and slips, lack of vigilance, overworking of the available yet insufficient nursing personnel, medication packaging designs, lack of procedural checks, calculation errors, and suboptimal workplace design. On the other hand, errors in monitoring include poor monitoring of side effects, failure to complete the prescribed course of medication, and the failure to cease medication use upon the completion of the prescribed course. These errors are some of the effects of nursing shortage in this country as well as in many other parts of the words. These errors will also result into negative effects towards the patients (Williams & Wilkins 39). They may result in disease developing complications if addressed poorly, or even result to deaths.

What the American society needs to understand the significance of sufficient nursing professionals for better health care delivery and of the best quality. The efficient and practical management of nurses in an organization plays a crucial role in a hospital environment and constitutes a sizeable portion of the operational expenses. The nurse personnel practices and policies very much affect the staff working conditions and the consequent quality of healthcare provided (Huston 77-8). The policies that govern the staffing level impacts directly on the result of the scheduling level and contrariwise. An isolated mindset commonly leads to inferior decisions that lead to mediocre outcomes of the care. Selecting a staffing model and practice that matches the needs and goals of an organization is thus critical to the success of the management. Similarly, obtaining adequate resources to help with the staffing and scheduling is very important. The performance of a nursing staffing plan and on-boarding of new graduate nurses at once is a possible solution towards reducing the expenses associated with the expensive travel and contract type nursing.

Statistics show that effects of nurses’ shortage have been felt all over the United States of America.  Research done in this field also show that even the average age of working nurses has shot up to 45 years in the last 10 years from 32 years. This research also shows that currently there is a shortage more than 126,000 nurses in the US (Huston 132). These positions remain unfilled to the dwindling number of college students opting to pursue nursing as a profession in college. Additionally, this research projects a shortage of more than 400,000 nurses in the United States by the year 2020 if these positions are not filled, and if college students continue to avoid pursuing nursing as their major in college. Therefore, research shows that factors such as aging nursing workforce, diminishing pipeline of nursing students in college and immense growth in population leading to high demand of health care as the causes for nurses shortages (Schaffner & Patti 68).

Our federal government has however, been trying to step up and curb this shortage through offering full and partial scholarships to all students wishing to pursue nursing as a career in college. However, this is not necessarily guaranteed by every school in the United States where they offer nursing courses. The most considered nursing students for this scholarship are the ones who may be intending to work in high need communities. These scholarships are awarded by the federal government of the United States through the infamous Nursing Scholarship Program. This program falls under the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and it seeks to awarding student looking to become nurses with monthly stipends (Schaffner & Patti 163). This program also seeks to pay the cost of tuition for nurses in America, as well as exchange service offered in a nursing facility for two years of each student especially in cases where there may be nurses’ shortages.

It is significantly evident that the career of nursing needs to be taken very seriously in the United States of America. This is especially looking at the fact that serious career-specific scholarships offered by the federal government are not offered for any other career beside nursing and education. In nursing, these scholarships are taken even more seriously bearing in mind that the federal government also takes care of monthly stipends as well as paying the would-be nurses for a period of two year, before they even graduate. In fact, the mission of this Nursing Scholarship Program is to recognize and acknowledge students with potential in the field of nursing, and they are committed to assist needy American when they graduate (O’Grady 31). Therefore, this Nursing Program Scholarship seeks to offer these committed would-be-nurses with financial support both at the graduate and undergraduate level so that they can get the necessary skills and go out to save American lives. With this program under the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States, the government seeks to make as many nurses available to the American people so there could be enough personnel to assist them in cases of need (Buerhaus et al 57).  These scholarships are also intended to recognize the many students who show the initiative and the skills of becoming nurses who would always prioritize on saving lives. As if that was not enough, these scholarships are also intended to foster inclusion for every American who would wish to pursue this profession without having money constrains as a hurdle to their success.


In conclusion, nursing shortage in the United States is real and there are many negative effects brought about by this fact. These negative effects have serious consequences since they affect both the patients and the nurses leading to a crippled health care sector. However, the united states government is trying to curb the situation by encourage many students to pursue nursing in college and university level through academic sponsorships.

Works Cited

Buerhaus, Peter I, Douglas Staiger, and David I. Auerbach. The Future of the Nursing Workforce in the United States: Data, Trends, and Implications. Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2009. Print.

Feldman, Harriet R. The Nursing Shortage: Strategies for Recruitment and Retention in Clinical Practice and Education. New York: Springer Pub, 2003. Internet resource.

Hansen, Brian. Nursing Shortage. Washington, D.C: CQ Press, 2002. Internet resource.

Huston, Carol J. Professional Issues in Nursing: Challenges & Opportunities. , 2014. Print.

Nursing. Ambler, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007. Print.

Nursing. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008. Print.

O’Grady, Tim P. The Nursing Shortage. Chicago, Ill: American Organization of Nurse Executives, 1990. Print.

Schaffner, Julie, and Patti Ludwig-Beymer. Rx for the Nursing Shortage: A Guidebook. Chicago: Health Administration Press, 2003. Internet resource.