The nursing shortage most likely does not mean a great deal to people until they are in the care of a nurse. The United States is in a severe nursing shortage with no relief in sight due to many factors compounding the problem and resulting in compromised patient care and nurse burnout. Nursing shortages have been experienced in the past by the United States and have been overcome with team effort. However, the current shortage is proving to be the most complex and great strides are being made to defeat the crisis before it becomes too difficult to change. Researchers anticipate that by 2010, the United States will need almost one million more registered nurses than will be available (Cherry & Jacob, 2005, p. 30).
The term “nursing shortage” is not new to America. In fact, the United States has
past experiences with such shortages. It is important to recognize past nursing shortages because the events will assist researchers in examining the sources and strategies used to overcome the nursing deficit and facilitate a solution to the current crisis.
During World War I and World War II, America called upon thousands of women to become nurses for their country to help in hospitals and overseas units. America’s calling was considered a success and by the end of World War I, 23,000 nurses served in Army and Navy cantonments and hospitals, 10,000 served overseas, and 260 either died in the line of duty or from the influenza pandemic (“Nursing Reflections”, 2000, p. 18). In the early 1930s, nurses experienced the devastation of the depression. Families were very poor and unable to feed themselves let alone pay for a nursing visit. This caused many nurses to seek work elsewhere. Nurses who were lucky to be employees in hospitals during this time were given compensation with leftovers from the kitchen at the end of the day. America continued to grow stronger and become financially stable. The surge of stability and strength led to many jobs in nursing. By 1940, the government was providing funds to help create accredited nursing programs. Congress approved one million dollars towards creation of nursing programs. These new programs showed impressive success and the funds expanded to three million within two years. In 1943, the Nurse Training Act passed in legislation that led to the creation of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps (p. 47). This attracted many women to nursing because it provided 36 months of free education, student stipends, room and board, and a promising career. Figure A shows one of many famous advertising posters used to attract women to train for a nursing career. America continued to prosper; hospitals were working along side nursing programs and the government to bring a positive image to the nursing field. Nursing was on its way to finally being recognized as an imperative and honorable role in healing by women and men.
Hospitals and healthcare organizations have experienced shortages...