Who Will Care for You?
Jessica Williams | 7/13/2011, 10:47 a.m.
Needs for Nurses, Instructors Intensifies
Nurses are one of the most crucial caregivers, once a person enters into the health care system. They perform needs that range from helping a person get dressed to assisting physicians during surgery. Nurses are on the front lines of the health care industry.
As baby boomers age and as the need for health care escalates, so does the need for nurses.
"It could be catastrophic if we don't increase our pipeline and make sure we're meeting the needs of our health care system," said Lydia Ostermeier, director of IU Health Nurse Recruitment.
The Department of Labor estimates that by 2020 more than 500,000 nurses will be needed to fill the void. They also reported that the health care sector is continuing to grow, despite significant job losses in nearly all major industries.
Millicent Gorham, executive director of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) added that there are more than enough individuals who aspire to become nurses, but there are not enough faculty members to teach willing students.
"The faculty are getting older and retiring as well," added Ostermeier. There are also not enough spaces to provide clinical sessions at hospitals or community health centers.
Then there is the ever-looming issue of money - there are not enough grants, scholarships or loans available for amenable students.
Recruiters aren't looking for just any nurses, but ones with good clinical and critical thinking skills; work well with physicians, patients and their families; provide wellness plans and educational opportunities for patients; and are caring and compassionate.
There is also a need to significantly increase the number of nurses of color.
To delve deeper into the nursing shortage issue, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation partnered with the Institute of Medicine to conduct a major study "whose goal would be to produce a transformational report on the future of nursing."
This report aims to give a clear view of the delivery of nursing services during this shortage and provide a solid blueprint for action including changes in public and institutional policies at the national, state, and local levels.
The goals of the report are to work to reverse the shortages and develop a clear link between nursing care and high quality outcomes.
"It's really important for hospitals and nursing institutions to understand nursing care and innovations within nursing they could institute - in other words, when people are in the hospital what are the best ways to get them well and back out into the community," said Gorham.
The report also aims to create the next generation of leaders on all levels and provide nursing solutions for an effective health care reform.
The NBNA is looking towards today's youth to reverse this issue. They plan to launch the Summer Youth Enrichment Program to help students ages 8- to 18-years-old better understand what it takes to become a nurse, stressing the importance of adequate high school science, math, English and writing courses preparing them for college.
The increase of nursing instructors and nurses will also come with other necessities in the health care profession so today's youth have a wealth of opportunities available to them, if they are prepared.
Youths are a great start in addressing the nursing shortage, but advocates believe it's going to take average citizens to understand the importance of nurses in order to tackle this problem.
Both Gorham and Ostermeier are hopeful that these trends will change despite the increase in preventive health care - it will take quite a while to reverse illness trends such as obesity and smoking. The future of nursing is extremely bright.
"We have to make sure there is a nurse there when we need them," said Gorham.