Kristie Lynn Nelson
Physician and Nurse Shortages
To: Senator Rand Paul
From: Kristie Nelson, RN
CC: Senator Ron Johnson
According to the “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast” published in the January 2012 issue of the American Journal of Medical Quality, a shortage of registered nurses is projected to spread across the country between 2009 and 2030. In this state-by-state analysis, the authors forecast the RN shortage to be most intense in the South and the West (AACN, 2019).
As a Registered Nurse I have noticed as I have stumbled to find the position that fits me best in my nursing career that many of our facilities here in Wisconsin are finding it difficult to staff enough nurses and physicians to fulfill their needs and more times than not, to maintain the staff they have or newly hire. As a nurse working among the short staffed, I have decided to research why the healthcare industry is not booming with new nurses and physicians eager to work in this field and why so many that have chosen this field, like myself , find themselves moving around to different places trying to find the reason why they came into this profession in the first place. I believe I have found some conclusions. I am reaching out to you today, to implore you to be part of the change that will inspire our younger generations to be a part of the care-giving world and find reward in their desire to provide compassionate and respectful care to the people in our communities.
As Nurses and Physician’s, we have chosen to give of ourselves at all costs in order to care for others and ensure their health and safety. We are fully aware of the risks involved and the possibilities we may endure, and we embrace this because we take pride in our choice. We want to be the warm smile you see in your time of strife and the comforting hand you hold, we want you to know that your are not alone and that we will do nothing less than our best to nurture you back to good health. As human beings we want to be respected in our field by our peers and our superiors and to have a voice in the type of care we provide as a facility and to be the voice for our patients when needed. Sadly we are dismissed and devalued so often, sure our superiors like to portray that they want our input and make us feel like we are involved, like we matter, but in the long run they make decisions based on their own ideas , whether it fits in with our opinions or fulfills our needs or the patient’s needs or not, with no regard to our license being on the line with the choices they have made or how it may impact any of our lives. Negative, demeaning, or powerless images of nurses have another negative impact, that of nurse invisibility in the marketing materials or web presence of many medical facilities (Carty, Coughlin, Kasoff, & Sullivan, 2000) (Rambur, B. 2015). We as nurses, who have worked hard for our titles and have most certainly earned a certain level of respect are usually treated like grunt workers and left behind the scenes, while most of the “lime-light” goes to the physicians and the administration when it was our hard work that made a great part of the difference.
Nurses though, are not the only ones feeling left behind and unheard. Physicians also have lost a sense of purpose in this industry with insurance companies taking away the physicians right to treat as they see fit, costing taxpayers and our nation a fortune in additional and unnecessary testing and treatment that could have been avoided if insurance companies would cover the cost of the requested treatments and testing that physicians order and deem appropriate based on their educated decisions, educations that they worked so hard to achieve a degree in this field to be able to make.
If today's system for delivering primary care remained fundamentally the same in 2020, there will be a projected shortage of 20,400 primary care physicians (HSRA,2016).
Why is it that the professionals on the ground floor and the front lines are dismissed and the politicians, insurance companies and administrations are becoming the voice of appropriate care guidelines? When did they earn their medical degrees? What time did they spend with the patients? What makes them the final decision maker? When did the cost become our decision for life or death? When did we become so complacent with ideas of admiration, respect and one’s best interest? When did it become more important to see the most patients you can vs giving the most to a patient that you can... because you truly care not because you want to fill your wallets and bank account? When did we lose sight of what nursing really means and how valuable nurses really are and when did we forget what a physician’s role really is?
Physicians and Nurses are professionals and we are human, we worked hard to be where we are today and we chose to, because we care. I am asking for your help to stop insurance companies and politicians from making our lifesaving decisions and to be a voice in insisting that our administrations in our respective facilities start treating us better than just another 40-hour employee on the clock. In this politically correct world we are in, we have lost the ability to see people individually and based on their individual achievements and the fortitude to treat them based on the titles they have work so hard for and this is truly a shame. Please help me to take the necessary steps to make sure they give us and the degree we have achieved our due respect and treat us with dignity once again. We have certainly earned that! As young children most of us were inspired to become nurses and physicians because we saw the honor and respect that was held for such positions and we were emboldened to achieve such a dignified career.
If we can show our younger generation that our professions have dignity and respect and that the work we do is justly treated and appreciated again, that our voices are heard and respected as our earned titles should be, we can inspire them to choose a career in healthcare as nurses and doctors once again and we can continue our commitment to provide efficient, effective, compassionate care and respect to the people in our communities.
News & Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aacnnursing.org/News-Information/Fact-Sheets/Nursing-Shortage
Projecting the Supply and Demand for Primary Care Practitioners Through 2020. (2016, October 21). Retrieved from https://bhw.hrsa.gov/health-workforce-analysis/primary-care-2020
Rambur, B. (2015). Health Care Finance, Economics and Policy for Nurses: A Foundational Guide. New York. Springer Publishing Company
Nurses and Physicians matter.