In this video on MSNBC, they discuss the shortage of nurses in the United States. 118,000 nurses are needed today to fill the vacant spots across the US. Within the next decade (2017), that number will increase to 300,000.
St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona is always busy. The hospital employs more than 1300 nurses but actually needs about 10% more, or another 130 nurses. In the state of Arizona there are more than 1000 job openings for nurses.
The starting salary for registered nurses is on average $38,000 per year. The average salary overall is $68,000 per year. Many people see those numbers and want to go to nursing school. So, why is there still a shortage? The nursing schools cannot handle the numbers of applicants. Arizona State University recently doubled its class size but still turns away about 110 qualified applicants per year. Nursing schools cannot handle larger class sizes due to a lack of qualified teachers. Experienced nurses working as executives for hospitals or insurance companies can make 2 to 3 times what they can make teaching at a nursing school.
Bernadette Melnyk is the Dean at the College of Nursing at Arizona State University. She is quoted, “We are looking at not only a greater number of medical errors and complications that go on with patients, but also the percentage of patients that actually die from not having good nursing.”
In addition to the money issue, many nurses find that their jobs are too stressful and decide to leave the profession. To me, it seems like this is a never ending circle. We already have a shortage which causes present nurses to be busier and more stressed, and then they decide to quit and that only increases the shortage.
Nurses are a huge factor in the care that anyone receives at a hospital or clinic. Maybe we should start addressing this shortage and we can hopefully improve the medical system at the same time.