Looking down the barrel of a world wide pandemic, comes the news that there are 135,000 unfilled nursing positions in the United States. By 2015, this number is expected to go to be 683,000 unfilled positions.

Two main reasons are given for these shortages:

1. Nursing hours are long, difficult and stressful
2. There is a huge shortage of nursing faculty.
    We are running out of nurses to teach prospective nurses.

Back in the day, there were 2 professional jobs for women—nursing and teaching. All fields of professional work are now open to women. Many choose other professions than nursing. Although men are now nurses, certainly not all that many join the nursing field.

There are probably some carry over stereotypes from an earlier time that we don’t even realize we say. How many of us say ‘male nurse’ without even thinking about it. Do we say ‘female nurse?’ No. Americans need to put nurses in a better light and to drop the gender stereotyping.

Immigration issues are adding to the shortage of nurses. There is a 6 year wait for nurses to be allowed to come here legally. Several acts are before congress to help speed along the immigration process for those who want to come here to practice medicine. Currently, the only thing stopping new nurses coming here is red tape. Many are standing in line, but the line doesn’t seem to be moving. If something doesn’t change, we can expect to face severely diminished nursing care in the very near future.

8 Thoughts to “US Has 135,000 Unfilled Nursing Positions”

  1. Emma

    OK, as a nonpracticing but still licensed RN I will put in my two cents.

    Reasons why nurses leave the profession:

    1. The pay is ok, but you have to work your butt off to get it, and the glass ceiling is fairly low if you can’t break out of the hospital.

    2. Hospital administration, even in the middle of a nursing shortage, will still try to let you know you are lucky to have a job.

    3. It’s hard to live your life-and feel in control of it–when you are expected to commit to a 6-week schedule at least 6 weeks before it starts. Begging your coworkers to trade when you have a significant life event can get really old really fast. The yearly haggling over the holidays can wear you out fast.

    3. The job demands increasingly sophisticated technical skills, advanced degrees are often preferred, but salaries are rarely commensurate with the credentials you are required to have in many situations.

    4. No matter how sophisticated your technical skills are, the public–while often very grateful–still has a static image of nurses as subservient to physicians and somehow less intelligent than other professions. I have a relative who used to tell me that I was wasting myself, that I was “too smart to be a nurse.” How many of you would prefer a dumb nurse?

    5. While many physicians have evolved, there is still an insistence that they be called “Dr.” while you are almost always addressed by your first name. Doctors still make themselves scarce, don’t answer their pages or return calls, write illegible orders and wait until the end of the day to show up for 2 minutes to the anxious patient’s bedside.

    6. Along with the general population, patients are physically much larger in size now, are much sicker, and are discharged much sooner, putting the nurse in considerable risk to her safety, health and professional well-being.

    7. Healthcare is becoming increasingly politicized. Providers now must provide abortions they may find morally abhorrent. But if they took part in waterboarding, there is a groundswell out there that wants them prosecuted for what some now find morally abhorrent. Go figure.

    8. Want to teach nursing? There was a time when I thought I did. Try to get a faculty position at a major university. They prefer Ph.D’s. Remember what I said about the credentials not paying for themeselves?

    So bring on the immigrant nurses. They can have it. Once Obama finishes “reforming” healthcare, there won’t be any incentive for excellence anyway once you have to take a number to receive your care.

  2. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    Nursing has been the place to be for some time. They knew a shortage was coming years ago.

  3. Emma

    I know a number of nurses who went into real estate at the height of the “bubble.”

  4. Moon-howler

    Who could blame them. However, there will be a new respect when there are no longer nurses and teachers to fill the needs of our society.

  5. Censored bybvbl

    The women I know who are still RNs are in administration or working two twelve hour shifts(weekends) and getting paid for forty hours. They’re either tired of the crapola/red tape that they have to endure and are thus taking the long weekend shifts or have to support their families as admins/directors and are taking advantage of the salaries those positions offer.

    Maybe schools need to pay their nursing faculty higher salaries – at least competitive salaries.

  6. Gainesville Resident

    A big problem is for someone coming here to get their nursing certfication. I know, because I looked into it for my wife who was a senior nurse at a hospital in China that practiced Western medicine (she worked in the dialysis unit). Very difficult, she has to first show mastery of English on an ESOL type test. Then, not only does she have to get transcripts somehow from her schools (BS and MS basically) but she has to pass the nurses exam here which has very complicated medical terminology. I looked it over and there were words I never heard of in sample questions. Very steep curve for her to conquer. I don’t see it happening, quite honestly. Lots of luck to those who want to come here form other countries to be registered nurses, they will need it! My wife would love to work as a nurse, even though we don’t need for her to have a job, she would like to go back to nursing.

  7. Moon-howler

    Thanks for that insight, Gainesville. I know a lot of medical help immigrates from African countries. I do not know exactly what their certifications are but I ran into a lot of them when my mother was in and out of nusing homes and assisted living. They spoke accented English.

  8. Gainesville Resident

    No matter what country you are from, you must demonstrate English proficiency and then go on to pass the NCLEX, the nursing certification exam. You must also have transcripts and so on. I had a website bookmarked at home that went into great detail about this. As I’m on business travel, I did a quick google search – and turned up some similar website – http://www.nurseimmigrationusa.com/Downloads/CoreFiles/nclex_revised_for_foreign_nurses.htm . In Virginia first you must pass the CGFNS exam which tests English proficiency. Once you pass that, you then must pass the NCLEX, same as regular US nurses. Also Virginia and a lot of other states require transcripts from the nursing schools attended in the foreign country (and they need to be translated into English). My wife is not even sure she can get her transcripts, although I’m not sure exactly why. In any event, it is no simple task to jump through all the hoops, that is for sure.

    The requirements for CGFNS, which include a transcript review – are at http://www.cgfns.org/

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