I write in response to the article “Nursing Shortage: Not a Simple Problem – No Easy Answers” by Cheryl Peterson. As a new nurse, I found the article very enlightening and informative. The problems mentioned in this article are all very relevant. However, I believe there is one major contributor to the nursing shortage which is conspicuously absent from mention in this article, and that is the problem of “burn out.”
Nurses are so overworked that ‘good pay’ has no meaning at the end of the day. I am a night shift nurse and a ‘good night’ for me is having about 10 patients on an acute medical/surgical unit.When I was hired, 15 other nurses were also hired for my unit; 13 of these nurses left within a period of three months. They could not deal with the ‘reality shock’ of being assigned 12 acutely ill patients on a shift. What is even more disturbing is that about half of those colleagues who left went back to their previous, non-nursing careers.
Currently, I am finishing my senior year in a baccalaureate nursing program at Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, and hope to be in graduate school by the Fall of this year. As part of my graduate work I hope to do a study on the best ways for organizations to prevent and reduce ‘burnout.’
I do not believe that the nursing shortage can be solved only by opening more nursing schools or finding more nurses. We also need to work to retain the nurses already hired by providing a positive work environment, one that cares about nurses as well as patients. Preparing more nurses makes sense only if these newly prepared nurses actually remain in nursing.
I thank you for your excellent article.
Uchenna Revels, RN