Today, the provision of health care services of the high quality is one of the major challenges to the US authorities and the national health care system. At the same time, in spite of all the efforts undertaken by the government and local authorities, a large number of Americans are still excluded being uninsured and practically deprived of the access to health care services of the high quality. However, the lack of funds and health insurance are not the only problems that affect the quality of health care services delivered to patients in the US. In this respect, the shortage of nurses is one of the major problems that influence the quality of health care services, whereas in a long-run perspective, the shortage of nurses leads to the deterioration of the national health at large.
The shortage of nurses is a traditional problem for the US because the number of professional nurses does not meet the current needs of the US health care system (Billings, 2003). The problem has started to aggravated since the beginning of the economic recession because the health care institutions has started to suffer from the shortage of funds and job cuts became a solution with the help of which they expected to tackle the problem of poor funding of health care system.
At the same time, the costs of health care services increase steadily, whereas in recent years, the rise of health care costs has been particularly significant. As a result, patients could not afford paying high price for health care services, whereas hospitals and other health care institutions cannot afford maintenance of the large nurse personnel. In fact, nurses became the first victims of the deterioration of the socioeconomic situation because they were the first to lose their jobs in time of the economic recession. However, the decrease of the number of nurses did not coincide with the respective decrease of patients and their needs in nursing care (Benoff & Grauman, 1997). As a result, the attempts of health care institutions to save costs through job cuts of nurses failed to lead to the improvement of their performance but, instead, they led to the deterioration of the quality of services.
In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the shortage of nurses is absolutely unacceptable because nurses spend more time with patients than other health care professionals (Limentani, 1999). The role of nurses can hardly be underestimated in the contemporary health care setting. They perform very responsible functions and take care of patients who cannot recover without their professional assistance. Moreover, nurses assist physicians to conduct the treatment of patients and the outcomes of the treatment often depend on nurses.
Thus, it is possible to conclude that the shortage of nurses in the US is a serious problem because it affects the quality of health care services. Today, the US authorities should focus on the rise of the number of nurses in the US to provide Americans with nursing care that will help to prevent many health problems in patients and to improve the national health at large.
Benoff, M., & Grauman, D. M. (1997). Mastering the physician integration challenge. Healthcare Financial Management; Westchester.
Billings, D.M. (2003). What does it take to be a nurse educator? Journal of Nursing Education, 42, Iss. 3; p. 99-100.
Limentani, A. E. (1999, October). The role of ethical principles in health care and the implications for ethical codes. Journal of Medical Ethics 25 (5), 394-399.