IVEA Mobility Blog
Silver Tsunami Drives Nursing Shortage: Here’s A Life Jacket
February 27, 2017
“The U.S. has been dealing with a nursing deficit of varying degrees for decades, but today… this shortage is on the cusp of becoming a crisis, one with worrying implications for patients and health-care providers alike.”
“The U.S. Is On the Verge of a Major Nursing Shortage,” The Atlantic, Feb. 2016
As a company that exists to help nurses do more with less, we were struck by this recent article about the looming U.S. nursing shortage. The piece cites the aging Baby Boomer population as the primary driving force for the shortage. Between 2010 and 2030, the senior citizen population will increase by 75 percent to 69 million. About 80 percent of these folks will have at least one chronic condition. And not only is the population at large getting older, so are nurses. About one third of the country’s 3 million nurses are older than 50 and expected to retire in the next 10 to 15 years.
New nurses will help fill the vacancies, but it’s not a case of lose one-get one. Yes, more students are graduating from nursing school, but the nursing-education system is struggling to provide training to all who want it. According to this article, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that nursing schools turned away nearly 80,000 qualified applicants because they didn’t have adequate facilities or faculty to accommodate them. Just as with the nurses, as more teachers retire, there aren’t enough coming up behind to replace them.
The problem is further compounded by the fact that nurses who do graduate can have trouble finding an employer willing to take on and train a newbie. It’s tough for a nurse with two or three years of experience to step into the shoes of one who’s been on the job for 20 or 30 years.
For all of these reasons, the nursing shortage is real, and the gravity of the situation varies from state to state, depending on factors such age demographics and number of nursing schools. The Atlantic article suggests that a better use of healthcare resources nationwide could help ease the looming crisis, but with fewer nurses available to care for patients, it’s those on the job who will bear the burden.
When hospitals are short-staffed, nurses have less time to spend with each patient and are more susceptible to fatigue and burnout. Research has shown links between nurse shortage and higher admissions rates and patient mortality. And higher ratios contribute to more nurse turnover.
So, what to do? Here’s a thought: Give them a better tool. Give nurses a piece of equipment that actually makes it easier to provide better care with fewer hands. The IVEA replaces the IV pole bedside and makes it possible for just one nurse to safely ambulate a patient.
If we want to keep the nurses we have happy and healthy and we need to prepare for an inevitable nursing shortfall in the future, let’s start by looking at the basic equipment nurses use every day and how it can be improved to make life better.
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