What does "shortage" really mean?
Subject: Nurses (Supply and demand)
Author: Conley, Brittany
Pub Date: 03/22/2012
Publication: Name: Tennessee Nurse Publisher: Tennessee Nurses Association Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Tennessee Nurses Association ISSN: 1055-3134
Issue: Date: Spring, 2012 Source Volume: 75 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 600 Market information - general
Product: Product Code: 8043100 Nurses NAICS Code: 621399 Offices of All Other Miscellaneous Health Practitioners
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 283984739
Full Text: As students we are watching every move made, listening to every word said, and observing every skill or procedure we possibly can. We are striving to put all of our textbook, clinical and theory knowledge together in hopes that one day we too can join the profession of nursing. Through these observations, we are beginning to see some patterns, and as I began to collaborate with other students across the nation and those here in Tennessee, this same topic is popping up--Nursing Shortage.


According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, we will be short 581,520 nurses by the year 2018. This is an issue that nursing has looked at for many years now. As students searching for a first time career, and for some a second career, the word "shortage" became appealing in that the idea portrayed job security. Unfortunately, many qualified individuals are denied their chance to even start in their journey to become a nurse because of lack of educational instructors. As we lose the instructors in the classroom, the ripple effect begins. With a decrease in instructors, you have to cut the number of students accepted. With a cut in the number of students accepted, you have a smaller number of nurses being introduced into the job market.

Upon graduation, we have an idea that the job market is wide open. However, this is where we are getting yet another view of the word "shortage." This includes shortage in funds to hire. In October, I had the opportunity of talking to a National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) board member in a general conversation, and it was brought up that we keep hearing about a nursing shortage, but the jobs are not as easily found as we would have hoped. One issue we talked about was "hiring freeze." We are hearing back from hospitals that they would love to hire us, but the funds are not available to pay for training of a new graduate. As I began to talk to other students, I heard the comments of "job experience," and many positions available require a year of experience before applying.

As I continued to collect other students' views of the nursing shortage, I was directed to the clinical setting. In our clinical time as students, we are seeing the strain of what goes on when there truly is a shortage of nurses on the unit. Nurses have to be pulled from float pools, other floors, or asked to stay for double shifts. This leads to fatigue, job dissatisfaction, and one of the biggest concerns, patient safety. We question whether it's a matter of staffing, unit managing, or availability of nurses in the area. We also want to know what the experiences are of seasoned nurses concerning the nursing shortage. Are the above issues happening around you, and what are you or your facilities doing to help to resolve these concerns?

I was encouraged as I listened and participated in these conversations because it is not an issue that we want to sit around and complain about. Behind the comments, ideas are being formed to help deal with these situations and we want to hear from the nurses before us. Below is an email address, and I ask for your stories, comments and ideas of resolution. There are some things we have no control over such as the economy, but as I read the last issue of the Tennessee Nurse, I was reminded that there are organizations that give us a voice and support efforts being made to address the nursing shortage. We want a real life view of how this issue is affecting our profession, and we want to join in an effort to overcome the obstacles it presents. Please contact me, Brittany Conley, at tasnpresident@gmail.com. I will look forward to hearing from you.

by Brittany Conley, President, Tennessee Association of Student Nurses
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.