Nursing and the great recession.
Recessions (United States)
Recessions (Political aspects)
Unemployment (United States)
Unemployment (Economic aspects)
|Publication:||Name: Nursing Praxis in New Zealand Publisher: Nursing Praxis in New Zealand Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Nursing Praxis in New Zealand ISSN: 0112-7438|
|Issue:||Date: March, 2009 Source Volume: 25 Source Issue: 1|
|Topic:||Event Code: 200 Management dynamics; 900 Government expenditures|
|Product:||Product Code: 8043100 Nurses; E229000 Unemployment NAICS Code: 621399 Offices of All Other Miscellaneous Health Practitioners|
|Persons:||Named Person: Obama, Barack|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
A year ago, few people would have predicted the economic mess that
the world now finds itself in. Since that time stock markets around the
globe have tumbled, financial institutions are in dire straits and
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have become household names. In New Zealand
John Key took over as Prime Minister, while Barack Obama became the
president of the United States of America. Both leaders entered the
world stage at a time that will go down in history as one of the most
challenging since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The economic downturn became obvious with the collapse of the property and credit markets in the USA and snowballed into a crisis affecting just about every country in the world, including New Zealand. The broad impact of these events was clear evidence of the interconnectedness of the 'global village'. Everyone here will be affected in some way and the impact may linger for many years.
Two questions are: how will this crisis effect us -particularly nurses, and what can we do about it? As countries around the world seek to preserve strategic industries and banking institutions, the most significant threat is the loss of jobs and rising unemployment. Preserving jobs and generating new ones are a major focus for governments. Current unemployment figures in New Zealand are estimated at just over 4 %, and more than 8% in the USA. Predictions are that the New Zealand figure could also rise to 8%. Whatever way Government approaches the issue large sums of money (which ultimately will have to be borrowed) will need to be invested. Consequently there will be spending cuts, with rises in taxes and the introduction of levies also likely to offset the increasing government deficit. No doubt District Health Board (DHB) budgets will become very tight and priorities may have to be revisited.
However, believing in the cup being half full rather than half empty, I suggest the recession could have some positive spin-offs for nursing. The announcement of the Voluntary Bonding Scheme (Ryall, 2009) for doctors, nurses and midwives by the Minister of Health is an example of retaining newly qualified people in 'hard to staff communities'. While the amount of money offered by the scheme may be challenged by some, this initiative could assist in attracting more people to take up nursing as a career, particularly in light of the perceived shortage of nurses and the prospect of a sound qualification at a time when unemployment is rising. The building of 20 new dedicated elective operating theatres will create around 800 new jobs for health professionals. As people are laid off in other sectors such as retail and real estate, registered nurses who left nursing for what once seemed greener pastures may choose to return to nursing. Already, anecdotal evidence suggests that this is happening. The Nursing Review in March 2009 (Recession boosts nursing courses, 2009) reported that most nursing schools had higher than usual demand for pre and postgraduate programmes.
At present the security of nursing jobs is cushioned by the shortage of nurses, and in the past nursing has shown itself to be relatively recession proof. A positive consequence of the recession may be that the current crisis serves to reduce the shortage of nurses with the recession putting more nurses into employment and facilitating others to change from part time to full time positions. More nurses should
mean better service. Although wages for nurses are unlikely to rise significantly over the next few years, due to the government's own budget restrictions, as the recession bites nurses may be perceived as faring relatively better than people in other industries.
A prolonged recession will eventually generate additional demand on health care services and social agencies as families struggle with income, housing, nutrition and maintaining living standards. Changing health needs will require a review of health care models, so leading to the strengthening or redesign of these. Again, this could well be a time of opportunity for nursing and nurses. We are likely to see an increase in nurse-led clinics, already shown to be as a cost effective way of managing the increasing health care needs of New Zealand.
For the above reasons I believe that for most nurses, job insecurity will not be a major threat. However, there is some risk that the perceived shortage of nurses could give a false sense of security. With the diversification of the role of nurses many nursing positions do not involve direct client/patient contact, and a significant number are in the private sector. Such positions may be more vulnerable. Clearly this is the time to reflect on your career as a nurse. Those who are well qualified usually survive best in changing times. This could be the time to take on further studies or to concentrate on completing a postgraduate qualification that is already in process. Much will depend on how seriously you take the question "are you ready for tomorrow's world?"
Recession boosts nursing courses. (2009). Nursing Review, 9(11), 1.
Ryall, T. (2009). Health Minister's speech to launch the National Centre for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice. Retrieved March 9, 2009, from http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?ArticleId=29436
RN, PhD FCNA(NZ)
Deputy Head of MIT Department & Research Leader Manukau Institute of Technology
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|