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When asked to consider significant issues plaguing healthcare today, many issues come to mind. However, in the current wake of the covid-19 pandemic, one would be blind to ignore the staffing shortages occurring in all aspects of healthcare across the United States. Staffing shortages have been a recent topic of discussion on many platforms within healthcare and the mainstream media.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021) appropriate staffing is essential to provide safe working environments for healthcare workers and facilitating safe patient care. Nurses serve a critical role in healthcare and are the largest section of health professions (Haddad et al., 2020). Employment opportunities for nurses are expected to grow faster than any other occupation from 2016 to 2026 (Haddad et al., 2020). This expected growth combined with the strain of the current pandemic equate to a need of nearly 11 million additional nurses to avoid exacerbating the existing shortage (Haddad et al., 2020). With the increased projected need for nurses in the future, concern for worsening staffing crisis exists. Staff burnout, existing staffing shortages, and employee stress and anxiety have been worsened by the pandemic and bedside nurses are leaving at a high turnover rate. Work environment has a significant effect on wellbeing of employees which significantly impacts job performance and as a result, patient outcomes (Jacobs et al., 2018) Lack of appropriate staffing leads to suffering work performance thus resulting in reduced patient satisfaction and negative patient outcomes as a result. In a healthcare system where hospital reimbursements are directly related to patient satisfaction and patient outcomes, the staffing shortages in the nursing profession will ultimately will have a significant financial impact on the hospital systems as well.
The hospital in which I am employed is no different in experiencing nursing shortages that are impacting nurse’s ability to provide safe and satisfactory patient care. As a result, they have responded with offering sign on bonuses to entice potential employees to apply. In addition to offering incentives to potential employees, they have offered additional hourly compensation for existing employees to cover open shifts. Despite their efforts, applications for open positions are dismal and nurses continue to vacate positions in favor of other facilities or in some cases, different careers. As a small rural healthcare system, the lack of nursing staff impacts negatively financially due to reduced patient satisfaction and patient outcomes. Despite the hospitals efforts to incentivize staff, reduced reimbursement for patient services limits the hospitals ability to continue these incentives. Ultimately if these incentives are no longer able to be offered, I fear the staffing shortage will continue to worsen and likewise patient satisfaction and patient outcomes will continue to suffer.