Crisis Strikes as Florida’s Nursing Shortage Hits Critical Levels
On the whole, the US healthcare industry is experiencing a personnel shortage. Hearing that a hospital is understaffed has become commonplace, practically par for the course. And while the headlines might prefer to highlight the lack of doctors, the troubles do not stop there.
An equally problematic trend is the nursing shortage and this issue raises serious concerns regarding the quality of patient care. Going forward, it is interesting to note that this issue will not affect all parts of the country to the same degree and that the southern and western portions will bear the brunt of it. To be precise, a report by Moody's Investors Service indicates that this shortage will take the greatest toll on California, Georgia, Texas, and Florida – the last one being the focus of our attention.
According to the estimates of the Florida Center for Nursing, the situation is dire. Their predictions indicate that the state will have a shortage of over 50,000 registered nurses by 2025. This staggering number proves that this is no simple lack of workers, but a full-blown crisis. And one that could have dramatic effects on anyone who ends up needing medical aid in the Sunshine State.
The Causes Behind the Florida Crisis
It’s not usually possible to trace the root of a problem of this magnitude to just one cause. This is no exception and you need to look at several elements in order to get the whole picture.
The first point to consider is the number of people who will require healthcare services. The aforementioned report by Moody’s indicates that this issue will impact Florida in two ways. On the one hand, the state will continue to experience high population growth, increasing the total number of potential patients. On the other, the state has a high percentage of older residents as it’s a magnet for retirees. And the older the population, the greater the strain on the healthcare system.
Next up, Moody’s report also points out that Florida will have a very low influx of new nursing staff in the coming decade. Combined with a growing number of patients, this creates a classic supply and demand problem. These two points show that as bad as it is now, the situation is only going to get worse.
As you can see, these are long-term issues and they are nothing new. And as it turns out, the main reason we haven’t already felt the full weight of this crisis may be a bit unexpected. We are referring to the Great Recession and how its aftermaths have temporarily delayed the onset of the nursing shortage.
In response to the economic downturn, nurses increased their working hours. They either switched to full-time employment from part-time, pushed back retirement, or returned to work altogether after having previously left. This created a short-term fix but its effects are wearing off.
Finally, we also need to mention that a significant factor in the nursing shortage is the aging workforce. In June 2018, the Florida Center for Nursing reported that 46 percent of the registered nurses who renewed their license in the latest cycle were over 50.
As you would expect, the only real solution is to increase the number of nurses. And in this regard, the focus is on education.
The Florida Center for Nursing has identified education as one of the key areas in need of action. The main goal is to produce a sufficient number of new nurses by attracting youth and making nursing education accessible and affordable.
Hospitals are echoing this sentiment and we can see partnerships with colleges. Again, the aim is to attract new nursing staff.
Numbers prove that Florida’s nursing shortage has long since turned into a crisis. The focus on attracting new people is definitely a step in the right direction, but that plan will take time. Until then, immediate predictions are bleak and people need to prepare for tough times.
What’s more, this will affect both the nursing personnel, who’ll be under greater pressure, and patients. As such, this is an issue of the utmost importance and should be on everyone’s minds.