Think twice about getting sick these days. We're running out of nurses.
America's nursing shortage, which is bad and getting worse, was the topic of a recent Department of Health and Human Services report.
The HHS report said fewer registered nurses are entering the field and many veterans are retiring or leaving the field for other endeavors. It went on to note that about a half-million licensed RNs are not working as nurses and of those who are practicing, less than two-thirds are in hospitals, where the need is most acute.
This situation will only get worse as the baby boomers age and increased stress is placed on the health care industry.
Nursing is a profession that requires dedication. It also requires a willingness to tolerate sometimes stressful conditions, demanding work and less than ideal hours.
Traditionally, nursing has been a profession that's been seen as one that was primarily for women. Continuing to encourage men to join nurses' ranks is a must if the shortage of nurses is going to be addressed.
The challenge will be particularly critical for small town hospitals which must compete with hospitals and other related career choices in larger cities. Nursing is only one component of quality health care, but it's a vital one. The nursing shortage will be one of just many challenges the health care industry will face in the coming years.
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