August 5, 2012

NPR addresses the Nursing Faculty shortage

On August 3, 2012 the NPR radio program Morning Edition presented a balanced and informative story about the nursing faculty shortage. The story probably has nothing nursing faculty were not already aware of, but it is told with some real-life examples to illustrate the facts.

I also encourage you to see the comments section for that story. It has always made me angry at the number of people who believe the answer to a nursing shortage is to lower standards. We don't do that for any other profession but even nurses will denigrate the need for more education. I have always asked for where it says that less education is better than more education in any discipline?


Anonymous said...

Hi Brent, I do not know where you are located but I am in the Eastern part of Massachusetts and I can assure you there is no nursing shortage here. If anything there is a shortage of nursing jobs due to the vast amount of nursing students within this area. Hospitals and facilities can use students to plump their budgets and get all types of care provided for their patients without having to pay salaries.

Less education is certainly not the answer especially since nursing is undergoing an evolution and another restructuring with the "nurse doctorate" title being put into place. Schools that have pumped out nurses are often not accredited and close within a short amount of time proving the old tried and true: more skills=less bills.

Natashia Valentine, BSN (MSN student)

Anonymous said...

Here in upstate NY we get a lot of nurses from Mass looking for work as there is none in their town/city- especially for new nurses. I am wondering why that is. Is it that they cannot pay to staff well?

How to they use the students to plum their budgets? Do you mean they take advantage of the students to do work that aides or nurses might do? That sounds pretty serious if that is the case.

Caren Kaziyev, RN (MSN student)

Brent Thompson, PhD, RN said...

It has long been true of health care worker shortages that the problem is often more geographic than numeric. Cities like Boston and Philadelphia educate a high number of nursing students each year. This means that some graduates will need to move from the area they graduated.

Nursing students were the original model for getting cheap labor by offering a nursing diploma in exchange for tuition, practical education, and work. Currently I do not see hospitals counting at all on nursing students as part of the workload calculation. They come too infrequently and are not skilled enough to replace a RN. A good nursing student can lessen the workload of a nurse, but a student can also create more work for the nurse.

Anonymous said...


I wanted to add one more thing to my post. In the hospital that I used to work in, there are nurses that were resentful of the hiring of out-of-state nurses. I have heard them say that they take jobs away from nurses here in upstate NY. Honestly, I am not so sure there is a shortage here, either. What I think is happening is that hospitals will not pay nurses to staff well, so they keep staffing at a minimum and it appears to be a shortage, but it is actually a shortage of money. To me, this lack of willingness to staff properly creates an unsafe situation.

Anonymous said...

I believe that is the case here. Nursing students cannot replace nurses, but I have seen them "hang out" with patients and keep an eye when the nurse cannot be there (is with other patients). In that case, she is lightening the nurses workload slightly. On the other hand, that nurse has the added burden of teaching (in addition to the workload she would typically have) and moving more slowly if she has a student with her.


Anonymous said...

In response to Caren's comment "What I think is happening is that hospitals will not pay nurses to staff well, so they keep staffing at a minimum and it appears to be a shortage, but it is actually a shortage of money. To me, this lack of willingness to staff properly creates an unsafe situation" - this is certainly the case in Northern Illinois. In my area we have several nursing schools but continue to work short staffed based on "staffing grids" set up by administration that states how many nurses can be staffed based on the patient census. When I speak to new graduates I am often shocked to hear that they are having trouble finding work. This leads me to believe that there is not a shortage of nurses but a shortage of money to pay for nursing salaries.

Shane Baker,RN,BS(MSN student)

McAllister said...

As an instructor, I have seen staff depend upon nursing students being on the units because they are short staffed. In addition, no acuity is taken into account for staffing, only a staffing by numbers, so 1:8 is common on the med/surg unit. Also, our geographic location means the hospital can pay what it wants, which is low, because otherwise the nurse must travel 40 minutes more away. Turnover is high because of this and nurses soon find out they would rather move out of the area. One would think the cost of hiring and orientation would come into play here. Just saying.

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