Solutions to the Nursing Shortage
Research on the nursing shortage in research papers shows the problem should not be judged by salary alone. If compensation were the only problem then there would be a greater push to correct the imbalances. Yet, the good news is that salaries have consistently been rising. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the average salary for full-time hospital staff nurse rose to $ 40,096 in 1996, compared to $36,618 in 1992. Pay disparity is just one area of concern. In the short term it seems pay has fallen into place and continues to do so.
Short-term solutions to the nursing shortage and pay discrepancies, while being addressed, are not the only area of focus. Public policy officials and health care professionals analyzing the shortage take a long-term approach to education, work environment, legislation and regulation. Work needs to be done to implement long term strategies to introduce greater flexibility in work environment structure and scheduling programs, to reward experienced nurses for serving as mentors, and to change salary and benefit programs.
Ideas as to how to solve the nursing shortage problem
- Some hospitals have handled shortages by taking fresh nurses out of school, giving them additional training in skilled areas and placing them in demanding units.
- Other hospitals are pumping more money into nurse recruitment and offering sign-on bonuses.
- Other ingenious ideas to solve the nursing dilemma would be to establish nursing education for some specialties.
- Allocate state funds for existing nurses to upgrade their skills.