The Impact of the Global Nursing Shortage
Despite the fact that the world boasts a nursing population of somewhere around 12 million, there is a chronic shortage of nurses all over the world. This lack of skilled medical care is felt distinctly in third world countries, especially.
Causes of the Nursing Shortage
There are a number of reasons for the global nursing shortage. First of all, there is a lack of good training resources for the nursing profession. Often the conditions that nurses have to work in are exceedingly poor, as well. Additionally, there is a significantly large portion of the nursing population that is aging, which means that older nurses are leaving the profession through retirement, leaving behind a void that is not being filled as quickly by those new to the nursing profession.
Another cause of the shortage in nursing has developed due to the fact that there are a greater number of differing and unique employment opportunities for women nowadays. Since women comprise the majority of nurses, this has impacted the field greatly.
In the United States, the rise of managed care was a large contributor to the nursing shortage. Insurance companies were not reimbursing for nursing expenses, and so nurses were having difficulty working in the industry that sometimes thwarted their involvement.
Globally, the hardest hit areas include both Africa and Southeast Asia. The surge of people becoming infected with HIV/AIDS has created difficulty in finding enough nurses to care for those sick and dying individuals in endemic areas.
Another issue globally is the migration of skilled nurses from hard hit areas in third world countries moving to better locations in first world countries. These positions pay better and the areas provide a better quality of living for the nurses, so it is understandable that they would want to migrate in large numbers to conceivably better places.
Some locations, such as Central and South America, actually have more physicians than nurses. This can be devastating to local populations, as doctors rely greatly on the medical support of nurses in their fields to care for patients. Without skilled nurses, the incidences of morbidity increase greatly. In Central and South America as well, there are so many populations in remote areas that are difficult to access, and it is even harder for nurses to work there or get there.
One of the biggest problems internationally with the nursing population and shortage is that nurses, being predominantly female, are often discriminated against for being female. Nursing is considered to be “women’s work” and beneath most males. This cultural phenomenon is absolutely a worldwide one, and until ideas about women in the workforce and nursing change, it is likely that this will continue to prevent women from becoming nurses and keep contributing to the global shortage of nurses.
When you combine all of these factors together, you can see that because there are so many, it is understandable that there is and continues to be a global nursing shortage. Hopefully as more time passes, this may begin to change.
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