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The Ongoing Struggles of the Nursing Profession: Understanding the Crisis and Exploring Solutions

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Zara Nwosu
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The Ongoing Struggles of the Nursing Profession: Understanding the Crisis and Exploring Solutions

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The Current State of the Nursing Profession

The nursing profession, a vital part of the healthcare system, is currently facing numerous challenges. Staffing issues, burnout, and a lack of support from hospitals remain persistent problems. The projected nursing shortage, accelerated retirement rates, and the impact of the pandemic have worsened these issues. According to surveys, a substantial number of nurses plan to leave the profession due to reasons including unpreparedness, lack of support, and cultural challenges. While many nurses continue to be passionate about their work, there is a widespread belief that the crisis in nursing is escalating, necessitating long-term solutions.

The Impact of Immigration Laws on Nursing

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One of the contributing factors to the nursing crisis is the legal immigration system in the United States. According to a report by The Washington Post, the immigration system is causing significant delays and backlogs for nurses trying to enter the country due to bureaucratic red tape, staffing and budget shortfalls, reliance on paper files, and long-outdated rules. The current system, largely unchanged for 33 years, is struggling to meet the demands of a growing economy. While President Biden has pledged to reopen the country to more immigrants, bureaucratic delays persist, causing a detrimental impact on the nursing industry.

The Financial Struggles of Hospitals and Health Systems

Hospitals and health systems are also undergoing financial difficulties, with numerous layoffs occurring in 2023. Organizations such as Acadia Healthcare, Adena Health System, Adventist Health, and many more have had to make cuts primarily among administrative staff and upper-level management. Notably, these organizations continue to aggressively hire nurses and other clinical positions, as reported by Fierce Healthcare.

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Attempts to Mitigate the Nursing Crisis

In attempts to mitigate the crisis, hospitals are adopting various strategies. Hospitals, such as Mercy Washington, are short of a full staff and are seeking creative solutions like remote work, varied shift lengths, and offering programs to pay for education or forgive student loans. East Central College, struggling to attract enough students to their nursing program, is providing scholarships to students in healthcare, as reported by Emissourian.

Legislation Affecting the Nursing Profession

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Legislation related to the nursing profession in 2023 has focused on staffing. National and state efforts are underway to address minimum staffing requirements, workforce advisory panels, and training lockouts. The Protecting Rural Seniors Access to Care Act is gaining traction to stop the CMS from finalizing the minimum staffing proposal and create a nursing homes workforce advisory panel. Other legislative efforts are directed towards supporting access to educational opportunities, improving access to nursing homes, and enhancing the use of telehealth, as highlighted by Skilled Nursing News.

The Culture of Nursing and Its Challenges

A significant factor contributing to the challenges faced by the nursing profession is the culture of nursing itself. A study on nursing students' perceptions about the culture of nursing published in Nurse Educator identified that nursing students struggle to define the culture of nursing. This struggle contributes to difficulties with the enculturation process and can lead to identity shock. Addressing these challenges could help decrease identity shock and improve the transition to nursing practice.

Conclusion

The nursing crisis is a complex issue requiring a multi-faceted approach. The struggle is not just about addressing the shortage of nurses, but also about improving the systems and processes that contribute to the problem. Enhancing the immigration process, providing better support for nurses, creating a more supportive work culture, and passing legislation that supports the profession are all crucial steps towards mitigating this crisis. It is essential for the future of healthcare that these issues are addressed urgently and effectively.

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