Nurses Physicians Dentists and Other Health Care Practitioners - Registered Nurses
nursing baccalaureate shortage population
Registered nurses (RNs) are licensed by the state to care for the sick and to promote health. RNs supervise hospital care, administer medication and treatment as prescribed by physicians, monitor the progress of patients, and provide health education. Nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, physicians'offices, clinics, and schools.
Education for Nurses
There are three types of education for registered nurses. These include associate degrees (two-year community college programs), baccalaureate programs (four years of college), and postgraduate (master's degree and doctorate) programs. The baccalaureate degree provides more knowledge of community health services, as well as the psychological and social aspects of caring for patients, than does the associate degree. Those who complete the four-year baccalaureate degree and the other advanced degrees are generally better prepared to eventually attain administrative or management positions and may have greater opportunities for upward mobility in related disciplines such as research, teaching, and public health.
Between 1980 and 1999, the number of registered nurses grew from 1.3 million to 2.3 million. Over the same period, the proportion of nurses per one hundred thousand population rose from 560 per one hundred thousand to 832.9 per one hundred thousand. (See Table 2.5.) The largest percentage increases occurred among those holding baccalaureate, master's, and doctorate degrees.
NEED FOR NURSES EXCEEDS SUPPLY. Although the number of registered nurses holding baccalaureate degrees increased sharply during the 1990s, there is still a shortage of nurses that is predicted to persist until 2020. Some health care experts believe that the shortage is intensifying because more lucrative fields are now open to women, the traditional nursing population. Nursing school enrollment has declined. In an article in the Journal of Nursing Administration (vol. 32, no. 2, February 2002), Marilyn Kettering Murray, MN, RN, reported that the nursing shortage has already sharply compromised hospital operations. Researchers have confirmed that since 2002 the nursing shortage has caused more than 25% of hospitals to redirect patients to alternative facilities for emergency treatment, reduce their available number of beds, and cancel scheduled surgeries.
Industry observers feel the shortage results from a combination of factors including an aging population, a sicker population of hospitalized patients requiring more labor-intensive care, and public perception that nursing is a thankless, unglamorous job involving grueling physical labor, long hours, and low pay. A 2002–03 survey found that nursing was rated the 143rd most desirable job out of 250 professions, down from 137th in 2001. Observers also note that the public, particularly high school students considering careers in health care, are unaware of the many new opportunities in nursing such as advance practice nursing, which offers additional independence and increased earning potential, and the technology-driven field of applied informatics (computer management of information).