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The magnitude and severity of the problem of the nursing shortage in the United States have serious implications on the effectiveness of healthcare services provided in health facilities in the U.S. This problem is caused by various factors. This paper examines perceived causes of shortage of nurses in the United States and explores prospective human resources practices that could avert and solve this crisis by attracting and retaining more nurses into the profession.

Synopsis of the Problem of the Shortage of Nurses in the United States. The problem of the shortage of nurses in the U. S has been around for ten years running. The crisis is caused by various factors, among them; poor wages, poor working conditions, hospital cost controls and insurance policies (Herbst, 2007). This added to the decision to import nurses from other countries has discouraged Americans from registering for this noble profession. There have been suggestions that an increase in pay for nurses would significantly persuade more people into the profession. However, there are also concerns that even importation and deployment of foreign nurses would not provide a solution to the problem. An integrative and strategic approach is, thus, needed to identify causes and develop accurate response approaches to the crisis.

Trends Contributing to the Shortage of Nurses. Shortage of nurse in the United States is a problem caused majorly by negative perceptions of the public towards nursing. The poor wages, poor working conditions, understaffing deter qualified people from pursuing a career in nursing. These factors have compounded the crisis. Approximately 500,000 registered nurses are not practicing their profession. The decision by the United States to import nurses enabled the government to fill nursing positions at lower cost, but, in turn, slowed down efforts to increase nursing wages, which could persuade more Americans to register for career and, consequently, solve the problem of the nursing shortage in future (Herbst, 2007).

The shortage of trained nurses in the United is caused by the fact that the educational, research, and training facilities and resources for nurses in the United States are insufficient. There is an acute shortage of qualified nurse instructors in the training facilities. This leads to decline in the number of enrolled nurses which in turn complicates the problem even further. Besides, the poor pay for few nurses that complete their training has only been counterproductive by discouraging qualified students from pursuing a career in nursing (Brush, Sochalski & Berger, 2004).

Human Resource Practices for Recruitment and Retention of Nurses. The key to attraction and retention of nurses is in a paradigm shift in human resource practices. Human resource practices should give priority to the U.S citizens, instead of importing nurses from abroad. Besides, pay hikes must be given the utmost priority. Wages given to nurses should be slightly above the ordinary professions, such as educationalists. Nurses should receive allowances for extra hours out of duty responsibilities, risk allowances, hardship allowances and health insurance schemes (Brush et al, 2004).

The working conditions should also be improved through the introduction of work shifts, annual leaves, and giving of incentives to nurses based on performance and outputs. The new nurses need to be put on positive mentorship programs that would support them and, consequently, enable them to respond well to challenges they might encounter (Feldman, 2003). The mentor should be positive and forward looking, striving to inculcate positive nursing practice values on the new recruits. This added to flexible scheduling of working plans, investment in health and safety of nurses through efficient lifting and moving equipments, extensive on-the-job training of new nurses would help deter nurse attrition and turnovers. Better working environment and wages for nurses would not only retain current practicing nurses, but also attract non-practicing nurses to nursing as a career (Feldman, 2003). This would create the motivation that an employee may need to function optimally, and find fulfillment and satisfaction in a career.

Local Hospital Human Resource Manager Position. Operations and services offered by Special Hands Nursing Home in Texas are still below nursing care standards. The nurses are overworked, since they are few. This facility lacks full-time medical doctors and physicians. As a result, nurses often double up in medical interventions and referrals for complications, which cannot be handled at the local facility. Sometimes, patients are not even attended to, since nurses lack protective gear, such as gloves, facilities and equipments to carry out the basic healthcare services. This, added to poor pay, discourages most nurses. The turnover rate for nurses in the facility is, thus, very high. This has impoverished the quality of nursing care services offered at the facility.

In order to attract and retain nurses to Special Hands Nursing Home, management must give a priority to the provision of basic facilities, equipments and materials that will aid nurses’ work. The payment must factor in the hardship that nurses at the facility encounter. Hardship allowance, better wages and overtime allowances for nurses also require consideration. Brush et al, (2004) cited that, in order to address the problem of overload, more trained nurses should be deployed to the facility by the federal government. However, in order to function effectively as human resource manager in the facility, one will need training for empowerment with skills, such as motivation and reinforcement skills, occupational health and successive planning skills (Feldman, 2003). Interpersonal skills and counseling would help in working with nurses under such conditions. People management, self-management and task-oriented skills are also quite essential.

In conclusion, the shortage of nurses in America can be addressed, if the root causes are dealt with. These include poor working conditions, poor wages, shortage of training facilities and resources. Until these challenges are attended, other measures, such as importation of nurses, will be expensive in the long run, and will not strategically deal with the shortage.

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