Why The World Needs More Nurses

Do we really need more nurses? It might seem as if all is good and well when you’re booked into a hospital. Everyone is walking swiftly to their appointments, and there’s usually a good set of nursing staff ready to greet you, check your paperwork, prep you for surgery, check your vitals… administer your medication…and fix your bed. Oh! And bring you food, and, and, and – the list of nursing duties goes on and on. 

Nurses make up the backbone of the healthcare system, and without them, the entire system would fall apart. With all the responsibilities placed on nurses, you can understand how, even though most of them smile warmly and speak kindly to you, they’re all overworked and in desperate need of relief from the nursing shortage. That was the case even before the COVID-19 pandemic. So, yes, there is still a desperate need for more nurses. 

In this article, we’ll look at the different reasons why the world needs more nurses. 

1. To reduce the impact of COVID-19

If there was one thing that COVID-19 did, it was to show the world just how serious the shortage of healthcare workers is, particularly with nurses. The pandemic exacerbated the situation, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), even with 60 per cent of healthcare workers being nurses in 2020, there was an estimated shortage of 13 million nurses globally. 

During this time, already overtired nurses were being pushed to their limits with incredibly demanding workloads, insufficient resources, and stress. Due to this, many nurses experienced burnout and have not since returned to the field. While the number of nurses has been on the rise, the WHO has estimated that there will still be a deficit of 4.5 million by 2030. 

2. To meet the needs of an aging generation

Medical innovations have increased the average life expectancy of people living everywhere, with the average Baby Boomer living to the age of 73 and older. This is an incredible feat for humankind. However, this places a bigger demand on geriatric nurse practitioners and those working in intensive care as there are more people to look after. 

3. To replace the aging workforce

Nursing is a calling, and the professionals who join this sector of the healthcare industry are completely dedicated to their jobs. But everyone has to retire at some point. As the population ages, we’ve seen many nurses working late into their 60s, but this also means that the healthcare industry needs to prepare for a large retirement of nurses in the next 15 years. It’s vital that new nurses are being trained to fill new positions and replace those facing retirement in order to alleviate the shortfall. 

4. To improve working conditions for nurses overall

As mentioned previously, there isn’t just a demand for nurses but a huge demand for nurses with all the responsibilities that come with the title. Due to the sheer amount and the nature of work that nurses do, they’re constantly under pressure. Many nurses have to face the reality of long shifts and difficult cases, which can ultimately lead to over-exhaustion, burnout, depression and even PTSD. 

The saying goes, “Many hands make light work”. Increasing the number of nurses in the workforce opens the doors to relieving pressure off of existing nurses in more ways than one. With more hands-on-deck duties shared, nurses preferably won’t have to work as long shifts. 

What are the challenges of meeting the demand for nurses?

We know there is a desperate need for nurses, and surely, the best way to tackle the problem is to educate more nurses. It’s definitely easier said than done because nothing is without its difficulties. Here are some of the challenges faced in trying to meet the demand for nurses. 

1. A lack of effective nursing courses

Australia is home to some of the most prestigious nursing schools in the world, and the best way to meet the demand for nurses is to train them. Tertiary education institutions are struggling to meet the demand for nurses, not just in Australia but worldwide, as there is still a lack of training programs available to accommodate everyone wanting to enter the field of nursing. 

However, online universities are doing wonders to provide a solution to the problem. Taking a post-grad nursing course online is one way you can contribute to building up a force of professional nurses, as you’ll be able to work and do your studies simultaneously. 

2. A lack of funding 

One of the biggest reasons not enough nurses enter the field is that many students cannot afford to study, especially if they will need to do placements for months without compensation. 

Recently, Australia has introduced the Commonwealth Prac Payment, which is aimed at relieving the financial stress of students doing their placements and breaking the cycle of “placement poverty”. There are also a number of scholarships available, but still not enough to meet the needs of students who require financial assistance to study nursing. Online nursing courses are also helping make studying more achievable financially, as students can learn and work at the same time. 

It’s not only students who are struggling financially, but additional investments are needed to help with the development of tertiary institutions in order to provide effective training and research for innovation in the nursing world. 

Final Thoughts

The shortage of healthcare workers is a pressing issue that, if left unaddressed, will lead to bigger issues in an already exacerbated system. There has been a great amount of progress made in rectifying the issue. However, there is still a huge demand. In meeting the demand for nurses requires a multifaceted approach, and there are many challenges.