Hospitals insist the U.S. shortage is too severe to address simply with money. Carl Shusterman, an immigration lawyer in Los Angeles, says he has 100 hospital clients that have 100 vacancies apiece. With two- to three-year waiting lists to get into nurse-training programs in the United States, pressure to import nurses won’t abate, he says, adding, “Even if we could train more nurses and pay them more, we’d still need to import them.”
Raising pay has successfully attracted nurses in the past, however. To remedy a shortage that developed in the late 1990s, hospitals started hiking wages in 2001—and added 186,500 nurses from 2001 to 2003. Some advocates draw a direct link between wages and recruiting. A 2006 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research concluded, “Increasing pay for nurses is the most direct way to draw both currently qualified and aspiring nurses to hospital employment.”
While nurses’ advocates say better pay is critical, they also argue that working conditions must improve if the United States is to cultivate an enduring nursing workforce. “You will draw in some people with a good pay raise, but you won’t necessarily get them to stay,” says Cheryl Johnson, a registered nurse and president of the United Association of Nurses, the largest nurses’ union in the United States. “Almost every nurse will tell you that staffing is a critical problem. The workload is so great that there’s not time to see how [patients are] breathing, give them water, or turn them to prevent bedsores. The guilt can be unbearable.”
Whatever mix of better wages, better working conditions, and foreign workers hospitals employ, solving the nursing shortage in the long run will require solutions on several fronts. “Nurses are getting more organized, but major change isn’t going to happen overnight,” says Suzanne Martin, a spokeswoman for the United Association of Nurses, noting that other groups “would prefer to keep things as they are.”
Read the Businessweek Case: A Critical Shortage of Nurses from chapter 2 in your text book. Use the Argosy University online library for additional research, and do the following
Write a 3-page paper in Word format. Apply current APA standards for writing style to your work. Utilize at least three outside resources, one of which may be your text book, in formulating your response.