factors causing nursing shortage
factors causing nursing shortage
Nursing shortages are not a new concept. As the Baby boomers age and more nurses retire, nurses’ needs will intensify (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2021). The nursing industry is expected to increase 7% by 2029, with an estimated 175,900 RN openings each year through 2029 (AACN, 2021). Nursing shortages are multifactual. Nursing shortage factors include: nursing school enrolment is not growing with the demand, a significant portion of nurses are nearing retirement age, and insufficient staffing driving nurses to leave the profession (AACN, 2021). One area, in particular, that is sensitive to nursing shortages, and retention is correctional nursing. “Retention of nursing staff is more complex in a correctional facility” (Chafin & Biddle, 2013). One study noted only 20% of the nurses remained employed after three-years at this particular facility (Chafin & Biddle, 2013).
In a correctional facility, the primary focus is given to security, with healthcare being second. Providing care within a correctional setting is very different than a hospital setting. Facility security is always the focus and drive. How a nurse interacts with patients (inmates) within a facility is vastly different from a non-correctional environment. Being overly friendly or nice can wreak havoc and be deemed “over familiarizing” with inmates or been seen as a weakness by inmates creating a safety concern (Walsh, 2009). The correctional setting comes with its inherent dangers and stressors, leading to nurses’ high turnover.
The prison I was formerly employed with has significantly reduced nurses due to terminations and resignments. As an employee with the Michigan Department of Corrections, a nurse can be pulled from any facility to fill the needs of another facility at any given time of which has recently happened. Marquette Branch Prison is to have nine registered nurses in total, and right now, they only have four RNs employed there. The facility has tried to offer signing bonuses to retain RNs. They have changed some procedures to make it safer for the nursing staff, such as correctional escorts when going to the cells, and have reached out to contract agencies to secure nurses. However, none of these measures have led to success. As the shortage increases, the remaining nurses are forced to work more overtime in an already demanding and stressful environment leading to an even faster turnover and increased safety concerns.
Living in a rural area already stresses the number of nurses available, and trying to recruit and retain nurses within the correctional system proves to be an even harder strain. Correctional nursing is a unique field of nursing with many added stressors. As long as there is a need for healthcare, the nursing shortage topic will always remain a constant debate.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN] (2021). Nursing shortages. Retrieved from https://www.aacnnursing.org/news-information/fact-sheets/nursing-shortage
Chafin, W. S., & Biddle, W. L. (2013). Nurse retention in a correctional facility: a study of the relationship between the nurses’ perceived barriers and benefits. Journal of Correctional Health Care : The Official Journal of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, 19(2), 124–134. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1177/1078345812474643
Walsh, E. (2009). The emotional labor of nurses working in her Majesty’s (HM) prison service. Journal of Forensic Nursing, 5(3), 143–152. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-3938.2009.01047.x.
With the ongoing complexity of health care settings, health care workers must be able to identify stressors and barriers within the work environment to adapt to the changes and avoid burnout. Mental stress is linked with a deterioration of the quality of life at the place of work, leading to burnout (Ahmed et al., 2020)
. The Covid-19 pandemic has enhanced the existent work-related stressors in all health care settings, particularly the Emergency Department (ED) and Intensive Care Units (ICU); nurses are the targets for burnout. These front lines are engaged in an extreme amount of emotional, and physical stressors during pandemics while trying to calm themselves to achieve and maintain a balance between professional and personal life.
Well, document studies indicate that exposure to various stressors such as during pandemics is the link and catalyst for depressive disorders (Ahmed et al., 2020). A quantitative study by the authors Garcia & Calvo states: “ Pandemics can have a significant psychological impact on nurses, who are essential to the health care response. Previous studies have shown that pandemics exacerbate the stress felt by nurses, as they cope with intense emotional, physical, and cognitive demands” (2020, p. 832). Many nurses have experienced an intense level of stress in ICU settings during the pandemic.
During the first phase of the pandemic, I was assigned to provide support for the ICU nurses in the first Covid-19 unit in the facility that I was working for. After a month, I could no longer function. I was emotionally and physically drained and burnout. I realized that I had to take care of my emotional health first to take care of patients. I decided to take time off to care for my well-being. It was the best decision that I made for myself. It helped me to restore emotional balance and regain control over my wellbeing.
To avoid burnout in the workplace is primarily essential to self-assess(Laureate Education (Producer)., 2015)
a stress level and well-being. Health care workers give so much of themselves to others and often neglect their own emotional and physical health. Learn how to manage stress skillfully and find a work-life balance schedule. Taking time to maintain an excellent physical and emotional health status is essential to adapt and survive many health care settings. After taking some time off and recharging my emotional capacity to deal with the pandemic stressors, I decided to change my career. Finding meaningfulness(Laureate Education (Producer)., 2015)
in work is also essential to adapt to the changes in health care settings.
Personal resources are a useful tool for stress management, promoting well-being in the workplace. Furthermore, the cited article highlights that “The work and personal resources available condition nursing professionals’ wellbeing. Work resources refer to the physical, psychological, organizational, or social aspects of the work that must be performed to provide quality care” ( Garcia & Calvo, p. 833). Personal resources refer to a person’s characteristics related to a sense of control and resilience in maintaining control within their work environment ( Garcia & Calvo,2020). Ask yourself: What are my capacity to cope with stress? What are the resources available at my work-place to cope with and manage work-related stress? (Laureate Education ( Producer)., 2015).
Transformational leaders plays important role in buffering the stressors of health care workers that are prevalent in health care settings, especially during pandemics(Ahmed et al., 2020)
. Additionally, an inclusive leadership style, an external resource can provide the support that boosts the psychological safety of health care workers. Having the option to vocalize their concerns through an open conversation with an inclusive leader that is early accessible paves the way to health well-being. It creates a positive work environment that is psychologically safe, resulting in mutual respect, and reduced psychological strain(Ahmed et al., 2020)
I decided to live in the facility that I worked during the first wave of the pandemic. Upon returning to work, the lack of support from leadership and co-workers was the ignition for changes that helped me to find meaningfulness in my future role as a psychiatric mental health care provider.
Now I am working for an organization that offers meaningful support to the nurses and health care workers that are being affected by the stressors of the pandemics. There are several employee resources available. Employers encourage their employees to care for their well-being.
There are gym membership discounts, healthy choices of nutrition in the cafeteria, and other useful resources.
Health care settings will continue to grow in complexity, perhaps more pandemics will surge in the future, regardless of the arising challenges, in order to adapt is essential to stay tuned and informed about the industry trends and most of all, finds meaningfulness in the career we choose, and most important take care of our well being, finding a balance between work and personal life.
Ahmed, F., Faraz, N. A., & Qin, Y. J. (2020). How inclusive leadership paves way for psychological well‐being of employees during trauma and crisis: A three‐wave longitudinal mediation study. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Retrieved March 3, 2021, from
García, G. M., & Calvo, J. A. (2020). The threat of COVID‐19 and its influence on nursing staff burnout. Journal of Advanced Nursing,, 77(22), 832–844. Retrieved March 3, 2021, from
Laureate Education (Producer). (2015). Leading in Healthcare Organizations of the Future [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author. Retrieved March 3, 2021, from