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The American Nurses Association (ANA) states nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations,” (ANA, 2012). However, what happens when there are not enough nurses to care for humanity? For many years now there has been a significant nurse shortage, rendering this topic the focus of myriad studies which scrutinize, analyze, and reanalyze the cause, effect, and solutions for this crisis (Webber, 1994).
According to author, Hinshaw, (2001) “The shortage of nursing faculty is interwoven with the current national shortage of nurses,” (p. 1). The article, A Continuing Challenge: The Shortage of Educationally Prepared Nursing Faculty, highlights a number of factors which contribute to the shortage of nursing faculty, and the direct impact these influences have on the nationwide nursing shortage. There are several factors this article is successful in examining. Similar to the nursing shortage itself, the aging baby boomer population, now seeking retirement, is one of the main causes for increase in nursing faculty shortages (Hinshaw, 2001).
Thus there is an exodus of retiring nursing professionals leaving the workforce and not enough new nurses to replace them, filling their positions. Additionally, this article brings to light an issue often neglected in realizing among nurses. “The other major problem is not only that nursing faculty are aging, but the average age for assistant professors is also increasing due to nurses entering academia later in their careers. This means that their time for potential productivity as leaders and scholars is being curtailed,”
These issues necessitate an even higher demand for nursing faculty and an increase in availability for students within nursing education programs. Fang, Wilsey-Wisniewski, & Bednash, (2006) assert that that over 40,000 qualified nursing applicants were turned away in the 2005-2006 academic year from baccalaureate nursing programs due to a lack of masters and doctoral qualified faculty, and that this number was increased over 9,000 from 32,000 qualified but rejected students from just two years earlier Hinshaw states.
“Several other factors contribute to this dilemma: increased number of opportunities within the profession, along with non-competitive salaries in academia in relation to a major financial investment in doctoral education, and also the high expectations for academic positions,” (2001). Nurses who receive graduate and advanced practice degrees, possess the academic preparedness and credentials, which allow them more professional choices. Among these choices are administrative, entrepreneurial, clinical research, and academic positions.
Furthermore, other nursing positions mentioned offer significantly higher financial compensation and render faculty salaries non-competitive, (Hinshaw, 2001). “The average annual salary for an associate professor of nursing with a master’s degree is nearly 20 percent less that the average salary for a nurse practitioner with a master’s degree, according to the 2007 salary survey by the journal ADVANCE for Nurse Practitioners” (Congress, 2009).
Currently there are several strategies that have been reviewed, to alleviate the nursing shortage dilemma, for example; “Federal and private support for experienced nurses to enhance their education” (Hinshaw, 2001). In 2009, The Nurses’ Higher Education and Loan Repayment Act was established, offering a graduate degree loan repayment program with hopes for enticing nurses to become nurse educators. Such federal incentives are attempts to reduce the disparity of ratios between nurse educators and nursing students.
Strategies for phasing and transitioning, has been another suggestion described in this article. “This author has found this a valuable strategy for retaining important expertise to have available to the junior faculty while showing respect (and remuneration) for the senior faculty involved,” (Hinshaw, 2001). One suggestion to propose would be more flexibility in scheduling for working nurses to continue their education.
Many facilities desire their nurses to advance their studies, but fail to provide them with a more flexible schedule. This is a deterrent with many nurses and had been a large issue with me transitioning in going back to school. In final analysis, this article is thought provoking, and addresses key causes, effects, and possible strategies needed to resolve the nursing shortage dilemma. Numerous strategies are outlined in depth, and written in a clear, concise manner enabling full reader comprehension.
Hinshaw encourages her audience to face the factors involved in this current nursing crisis, and for nursing professionals to consider the possible strategies they can participate in, and assist in implementing for this decade. It is important to inform the public of the issues that essentially effect everyone. Furthermore, educating the public, provides them with the information needed to make informed decisions when voting, and supporting certain health care policies.