The future health care of millions of Americans will be compromised if the U.S. doesn't develop innovative strategies to tackle the national nursing shortage, says Emory University nursing leader Marla Salmon, ScD, RN.
"Most of us assume that when we need nursing care, someone will be there to provide it," says Dr. Salmon, dean and professor of Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. "The assumption that nurses will be there when we need them is simply no longer true. For the first time ever, this country is facing a shortage of nurses that threatens the health of each of us. And unless urgent measures are taken, this shortage will become increasingly more severe over the next 15 years."
Salmon, ScD, RN
Dr. Salmon will address the severity of the U.S. nursing shortage and what can be done about it at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on April 25 (more information on the WHSC web site).
The national deficit of registered nurses is expected to rise to 29 percent by the year 2020, leaving a gaping shortage of more than 400,000 nurses by 2010, according to estimates.
New methods for addressing the supply, utilization and support of nurses must be adopted if the U.S. is to continue to provide quality health care in the near and long-term future to people at home and abroad, says Dr. Salmon. She supports boosting student recruitment efforts and expanding academic options available for individuals interested in nursing careers.
The U.S. is facing an unprecedented shortage of nurses that is projected to increase significantly over the next decade. That deficiency coincides with the growing care needs of baby boomers and those with chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The shortage also is compounded by a shift in nurses leaving the workforce and fewer nurses entering the field to replace them. In addition, the demand for nurses who deliver specialized care also has risen, she adds.
To address the shortage, some U.S. hospitals and health care systems have recruited nurses from the United Kingdom and Canada, and in recent years, from the Philippines and even South Africa, where the supply of nurses is already depleted. The American Nurses Association, which represents the country's 2.6 million registered nurses, has discouraged aggressive recruitment of foreign-trained nurses, calling it a shortsighted strategy.
Dr. Salmon agrees. "This more and more of a push to recruit less and less well-prepared nurses from countries that don't have systems like ours," she says. "I think there is great danger in that."
Dr. Salmon has played significant national and international leadership roles in health policy and workforce arenas. She is former director of the Division of Nursing and Chief Nurse for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services where she led key federal programs aimed at shaping the nation's nursing work force. Dr. Salmon also chaired the National Advisory Committee on Nursing Education and Practice and was a member of the White House Task Force on Health Care Reform. (Full bio on the WHSC web site.)
Embargoed until 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, April 25