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Risk Management: Responding to the Nursing Shortage

Autor:   •  March 8, 2011  •  Essay  •  2,746 Words (11 Pages)  •  2,532 Views

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Risk Management: Responding to the Nursing Shortage

Risk Management: Responding to the Nursing Shortage

Over the past decade there has been significant concern regarding the shortage of nurses that American health care facilities battle. As the American population ages and multiplies, the need for qualified nurses expands as well. Unfortunately however, the demand for nurses far exceeds the supply and is only expected to worsen. Nursing shortages are a serious concern because as shared by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (2010) nursing shortages adversely affect patient care, increase hospital lengths of stay, result in a greater number of medical and surgical complications, and lead to emergency room overcrowding. As a result, patient and employee safety and satisfaction are compromised. It is essential therefore, that American health care facilities take a vigorous approach to increasing the nursing workforce. Within the following essay, the impact of nursing shortages on the VA will be explored, and the steps taken by the VA to address the nursing shortage and recruit qualified nurses will be examined and compared to the steps taken by three other American health care facilities.

VA Health Care

The VA is an extensive medical organization that provides health care services to veterans and their families. The largest employer of nurses in the world, the VA employs more than 60,000 RNs, advanced practice nurses, LPNs/LVNs and nursing assistants (Erikson, 2005). As reported by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (2010) there are a total of 1,300 Veterans Administration health care facilities across the country that serve an estimated 7.6 millions veterans. The VA strives for excellence in the delivery of patient care, however; this is made challenging as a result of a 10% shortage of VA nurses, which is only expected to rise (Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, 2010). Further complicating the pre-existing nursing shortage is the fact that veterans of wars past are increasing in age and requiring more care. Additionally, as a result of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the VA is seeing an increase in younger veterans seeking care secondary to complex injuries. In response to the issue of nursing shortages, the VA has been forced to develop innovative strategies aimed at increasing the nursing workforce.

According to the U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Veteran's Affairs (2003) "there are indeed too few nurses available to fill hospital vacancies, nursing homes and other needs at specialty clinics, but also to fill the need at the VA" (para. 5). In the year 2000 the number of full-time nurses was estimated to be 1.89 million, which represents a shortage of 110,000, or six


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