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Well, why not start the forum with a concerning topic.

Working in the field of medicine we are all familiar with the nursing shortages. It is to my knowledge that the coasts and borders are severlly short and now the pinch is starting to be felt in the midwest. I am curious to how others feel about the shortages and what this will entail for the future?


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I agree there is definitely a shortage. Here in the midwest, they are hiring agency nurses. I know of a few people who have signed on to work for agencies, mainly because of the higher salary. The problem then is the lack of continuity of patient care. I have seen patient care suffer due to simple orientation things such as where all of the supplies are kept. Also with the shortage, nursing assistants are given more responsibilities leaving the RN responsible for overseeing their actions, leaving her or him liable. It is a big problem.

Jenny Henderson, RN, BSN
SDN Communications, Inc.
The Student Nurse Network

[This message has been edited by nursejenny (edited 06-12-2000).]


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Even though I have been a FNP (master's prepared)for years, I still moonlight as a staff RN in the ICU periodically. It seems to me the problems in nursing today are the same problems of nursing 15 years ago. The demands are now and always have been beyond what any human can possibly do in an 8 or 10 hour shift. That is why nurses have to stay 30-60 minutes beyond their shifts (often uncompensated) to finish paperwork or "tidy up". Hospitals continuously shift more responsibility to the nursing staff who in turn delegate to non-licensed professionals (risking quality patient care) and so on and so on. There are hundreds of examples of this throughout hospitals nation wide.

There also seem to be bigger and bigger gaps, between nurse managers and staff nurses. Poor management skills, poor communication skills, poor crisis management, just to name a few.

I have left nursing and am now a first year medical student. It is amazing to me the camaraderie of medical students and physicians in general. There is no such thing as "doctors eating their young". We all know how "nurses eat their young". Until nurses can "practice what they preach as far as professionalism and high standards I am afraid the problems will never cease.

The nursing profession still has not agreed on the minimum entry level for professioanl nurses. This argument has been beat to death (for at least 15 years I know, because I have experienced it that long). Yet there are still LVNs and LPNs calling themselves "nurses" with no distinction between them and a bacaleureate or master's prepared clinician (at least to the average consumer). There are still diploma programs and associate programs throughout the country spewing out RNs and again no distinction is made in the real world between the differing educational and clinical preparations of these practitioners.

I am not angry and I have not left nursing because I am bitter. I loved being a nurse and I loved being a nurse practitioner. I have left nursing because I believe in quality care and I want to make a difference in the health care community. I needed to take the next step that would most impact my clinical practice and the care for those I love.

When I was young I thought I had the answers; however the ANA and all the other nursing associations are as beaurocratic as any thing I have ever seen. Perhaps those entering the profession today will rekindle the flames of the past and make a differnece. For all our sakes I hope so.

Sorry for rambling.


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I'm beginning med school this fall, but during the two years since I graduated from college, I worked as a Nurse's aid(PCT) on a Med-Surge floor in a major hospital in Ohio. When I started there, things really weren't that bad. At most we'd have 6-8 Pts per RN/PCT team. But when I left early this year, the situation was critical (no pun intended).

We had too few RN's and PCT's, our assignments started growing to 8-12 per team, and the hospital started offering huge signing bonuses for new RN's. Nurses were deligating more jobs to PCT's, who were not able to handle them. Most RN's stayed an hour after their shift too catch up. The stress level was so high, that everybody hated coming to work each day. We all knew that the pressure would eventually cause mistakes to happen, and it finally did.

An overburdened agency nurse brought in to help out the short-staffed ICU, was given 3 pts instead of the usual max of 2. While hanging her IVPB's, she accidently switched two of them. One was a paralytic for a PT on a vent, the other bag was an antibiotic for a 45 year old man who'd had an apandectomy. The post op pt was not tubed, and received the paralytic. They coded him three times, and he ended up dying on my floor 2 weeks later. His kids were 12 and 14.

These things happen much to frequently. It's obviously every RN's nightmare to have a mistake cost somebody their life, but then again, when you're so shortstaffed, mistakes are bound to happen.

I don't know what the answer is, but something's got to change, or else stories like this will be even more common!
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