Nurses: A Rare Commodity, Getting Rarer
The aging population (those ages 65 and older) in the United States is expected to grow by 83.7 million by 2020. Because there are more older adults, there will be a greater need for nurses. The picture gets bleaker when coupled with the fact that the average nursing workforce is over 50 years old (50.9%) and will themselves be retirees within the next decade. Attrition in the profession is expected to continue as insufficient staffing raises stress levels, influences job satisfaction and drives many nurses from the profession, it is projected that nursing care will be at a higher premium than it currently is. To illustrate this point, according to Nurse.org, Texas alone, will have 253,400 nurses by 2030 but the projected demand will outpace the 269,300 vacancies by a shortage of 15,900.
After painting such a gloomy picture of the nursing field, a ray of sunlight may be that of all medical degree programs, nursing students make up the majority. Once these graduates join the workforce, they can help fill the 1.1 million open nursing slots around the country.
Geriatric Nursing: Five Characteristics of Excellence
One thing that is essential in the nursing profession is the need for individuals who are suited for the profession. According to practitioners, characteristics needed for those wishing to become a geriatric nurse include the following:
- Having Patience: Exhibiting understanding and kindness is key to nurses working with older adults. That includes working with families of adults in assisted living or memory care.
- Sincere Respect: Developing a trusting rapport with those in our care is essential to compassionate care.
- Exhibiting Compassion-Being able to empathize with older adults as their health wanes or as they become more dependent on others for personal care. Being able to be sensitive to those seniors who want to maintain autonomy or are embarrassed by their lack of independence, even when they are grumpy.
- Recognizing Changes: The cornerstone to exceptional care includes being able to know a person enough to know when they are not themselves due to disease.
- Being a Communicator: Being able to provide consistent care takes good communication. Taking verbal or visual cues is important to care. This includes being an active listener.
Nursing is a profession that has a long history with the first recorded nursing activity in 300 A.D. during the Roman empire. During the Middle Ages, nurses were the compassionate nuns and friars of the Catholic Church. Modern nursing is said to have originated in the early 1900s during the Crimean and Civil War. World War II was a major factor that began modern nursing with recognition by the U.S. government in the necessity of trained healthcare workforce being supported by formal licensing and degrees. Today, nursing has branched into distinctive specializations like general practice, pediatric, trauma, critical care and geriatric nursing.
In 1993, the American Nurses Association declared May 6-12 as the national week to “celebrate and elevate” the nursing profession. Each year, the celebration ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
National Nurses Week is a time for all to recognize the contributions and the impact of the nation’s 4 million nurses. Remember to tell a nurse how much you appreciate their work.