The Challenges and Rewards of the Nursing Profession
Tracing The Roots of the Nursing Profession
During the early years, nursing duties were delegated to volunteers who had minimal or no training in the field. During the Crusades, a group known as Knights Hospitalers provided nursing care. During the latter years of the eighteenth century, nursing was considered as unsuitable for educated women because during those times hospitals were untidy and frequented by pests. Consequently, people who provided nursing care were either imprisoned drunkards or those who were unable to find a job in other places (Carruthers).
Contemporary nursing traces its roots in the middle of the 19th century with the introduction of Nightingale training schools for nurses. In the US, the Spanish-American War and World War I required the need for additional nurses from the military as well as civilians. In 1920, the Goldmark Report which got its funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, pushed for the separation of nursing schools from hospitals and that exploitation of students for cheap labor be stopped. The issuance of the Goldmark Report triggered the opening of several nursing schools and universities (Carruthers).
The Great Depression of the 1930s saw many nurses without jobs as well as the decrease in the number of nursing schools. With the onset of the Second World War, however, the demand for more nurses increased once again. In 1943, the Cadet Nurse Corps was established and it provided subsidy for young people who showed interest in pursuing nursing education for the duration of the war (Carruthers).
When the war ended, advancements I the field of medicine and health care have required nurses to have an understanding of complicated equipments, know about certain number of treatment methods, and to implement care methods that are necessary for the delivery of proper health care (Carruthers).
The Challenges of the Nursing Profession
The nursing profession is currently experiencing a shortage. This is in the light of the demand for more health care providers. This issue is compounded by the fact that nursing colleges and universities across the United States are having a hard time increasing their enrollment rate in order to meet the demand for more nurses. Here are some facts and figures to prove the sorry state that the nursing profession is experiencing right now (Rosseter 1 ).
According to a report released by Dr. Peter Burhaus and colleagues at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the nursing shortfall could reach half a million by 2025 as the need for more nurses will increase by 2 to 3% annually (Rosseter 1).
At least 30,000 extra nurses should graduate yearly in order to reach the meet the needed number of nurses. This is an increase of 30% more than the present number of nursing students graduating annually (Rosseter 1).
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 1 million fresh and substitute nurses will be required by 2016. Analysts predict that an additional 587,000 new positions will be generated by 2016, which is 23.5 % higher than previous years (Rosseter 1).
According to the results of the Nursing Management Aging Workforce Survey, 55% of the participating nurses expressed their desire to retire between 2011 and 2020. Most of them are nurse managers (Rosseter 1).
Factors That Led to a Shortage of Nurses
The current nursing shortage that is taking place in the United States is a result of several factors (“The Nursing Shortage”).
The enrollment in nursing schools is not enough to meet the desired number of nurses for the next decade. According to a report released by AACN, the 5.4% increase in enrollment is not sufficient to fill up the shortage of nurses. At least 90% additional nurses are needed to meet the shortfall (“The Nursing Shortage”).
The decrease in the number of nursing faculty has led to the restrictions in enrollments to the nursing program. Presently, there is a 12% drop in the amount of nursing educators. This has been a stumbling block in the acceptance of qualified students to nursing programs (“The Nursing Shortage”).
The nursing work force is aging. In New York alone, the average age of nurses is 47 years, which is a couple of years older than the national average. At age 49, most nurses would opt to retire (“The Nursing Shortage”).
Another major contributor in the shortage of nurses is the presence of more employment opportunities for women. Nowadays, more women have ventured into careers which were originally unavailable for them. It is no longer unusual for women to be seen in court rooms or handling delicate positions in the corporate world or government (“The Nursing Shortage”).
Fewer opportunities for minorities have likewise contributed to the shortfall of nurses. In 2001, only 13% of minorities have been represented as opposed to 28% from the general population (“The Nursing Shortage”).
According to a survey initiated by the American Nurses Association (ANA), the workplace conditions have changed considerably over the years. 7,300 nurses participated in the survey and most of them experienced problems in their place of assignments. Their usual complaints are exhaustion, increase in workload, and insufficient staffing (“The Nursing Shortage”).
The Effects of Nursing Shortfall
Due to the shortage of nurses, some hospitals needed to make drastic actions such as closure of an entire department. The main reason is that these sections of the hospital are undermanned. Due to inadequate staff, some hospitals had no recourse but to force their employees to work beyond their normal hours (“The Nursing Shortage”).
The Rewards of Being a Nurse
Despite all the challenges and the problem that the profession is currently experiencing, nursing is still one of the most rewarding careers for both men and women. Registered nurses constitute the largest health care profession in the world. In the United States, there are more than 2.4 million registered nurses. Three out of five hospital jobs are handled by registered nurses (“Registered Nurse Overview”).
RNs are tasked with providing treatment to patients as well as their families about certain medical issues and cure. Their daily task consists of updating medical records and symptoms, taking vital signs, conducting tests, operating medical machineries, and giving medicines to patients (“Registered Nurse Overview”).
To be employed as a registered nurse, adequate education is needed. There are three paths that a nursing aspirant can take. They can pursue a bachelor’s, associate, or diploma degree from any accredited nursing school. Whatever path they choose, completing the program is a must as well as passing the NCLEX-RN, which is the nationally-administered exam for nurses(“Registered Nurse Overview”).
Previously, nursing was considered as the profession of the unskilled. However, because of a woman named Florence Nightingale, this view of nursing was changed and in fact has become one of the more respectable disciplines providing boundless opportunities for advancement (Sounart).
Of all health care providers, nurses spend most of their time with patients. Knowledge of various treatment procedures is therefore vital in the profession. The good thing about the profession is that it is no longer confined to the four corners of the hospital and to the bedside of their patients. They are now employed in schools, government, and in companies. Regardless of where they choose to practice their profession, the main job of nurses would always be to provide care and treatment to their patients (“Registered Nurse Overview”).
Carruthers, Evalyn. “Nursing.” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 2008. 11 July 2008. <http://encarta.msn.com/text_761557139___0/Nursing.html>
“Registered Nurse Overview”. EDU Degree Directory. 11 July 2008. <http://www.edudegreedirectory.com/careers/registered-nurse-rn.html>
Rosseter, Robert. “Nursing Shortage Fact Sheet.” American Association of Colleges of
Nursing. 1 April 2008: 1–6. 11 July 2008. <http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media/pdf/NrsgShortageFS.pdf>
Sounart, Amanda. “Celebrating the Profession: The Accomplishments of Nursing.” Nursezone. 2008. 11 July 2008. <http://www.nursezone.com/Nursing-News-
“The Nursing Shortage.” New York State Education Department. 21 June 2001. 11 July