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How Does Nursing Shortage Affect Patient Care?

June 22, 2021

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The popularity of the nursing profession has been on a rise for a long time now. A wide range of varied job opportunities, competitive salaries, and an opportunity to help people are attractive aspects of the nursing profession.  Regardless of the appeal of nursing in Canada, there has been a persistent shortage of nurses in the country. This shortage has negatively affected patient care and the functioning of healthcare organizations. Further, it calls for prompt action centred on increasing the nursing population.  With the aging of baby boomers and many nurses nearing retirement, the shortage is expected to continue. Since this can have severe repercussions on the advancement of the healthcare system in Canada, many opportunities to study nursing in Canada have been introduced for internationally educated nurses. Canada is willing to educate, train, and employ qualified nurses for empowering its healthcare delivery.  Hence, for any international nursing student aspiring to build a successful career, now is the right time to take the leap and enrol in a nursing program.  Explained: How nursing shortage affects patient care 

Current Nursing Shortage: 

The ongoing and looming nursing shortage in Canada is not a new fact. It has been known for a long time now and extensive efforts are being made to fulfil this shortage, particularly after the COVID-19 widespread.  When the numbers of patients increase as compared to the availability of nurses, the ability of nurses to perform their duties gets affected severely, increasing the workload.  Since there are fewer nurses on duty, the active nurses have to deal with covering shifts, working for long hours, more stress, and feeling burned out.   Problems faced by nurses affect patient care and healthcare delivery in different ways. Some of those are mentioned below.  

Nursing Shortage Affects Healthcare Delivery: 

  • Patient Care: The patients are at high risk when there is a nursing shortage. In fact, many times they may also be turned away from hospitals or clinics because there is a shortage of staff to meet their demands. 
 The nurses who are working at long stretches feel tired, stressed out, and are more prone to make mistakes. 
  • Patient Satisfaction: The nursing profession begins with keeping the essence of quality patient care alive all through the treatment. The process of ensuring patient satisfaction starts when the ones who are in need feel taken care of. 
Anytime when a patient feels that they are not receiving adequate care, they are unlikely to recommend a medical facility to someone they know. When there’s a pressure of heavy workload because of understaffing, nurses may not have sufficient time required to perform tasks that are usually required. This can also lead to effective staff communication at risk.  Since there is a constant need to collaborate with physicians and other healthcare professionals, many things can go unsaid if the nurses are already running on a tight schedule. 
  • Healthcare Outcome: The nursing shortage affects both, the process of patient care and the outcomes. A high patient-to-nurse ratio is directly proportional to medical errors. When a nurse is stressed because of the amount of work to be done, there are chances of making serious mistakes. 
Even something as little as administering the wrong medication or the wrong dosage can affect the trajectory of treatment. Hence, nurses must work in a conducive environment free from stress because of the high intensity of their work and that can happen when they are in good numbers. 

Advancing the Nursing Population: 

Since high-quality patient care precedes all else, it is very important that all possible measures are implemented to ensure optimal healthcare delivery. Canada is renowned for its robust healthcare system and nurses are the backbone of any healthcare system. Hence, nurses are welcomed openly in the country. Internationally educated nurses are an excellent resource with the potential to become great nurses. Reaching out to these students is a wise investment for the future. New graduates of nursing courses in Canada are able to find employment easily because the government realizes the importance of hiring qualified nurses. These nurses are trained professionally and are empowered to support themselves financially, their patients medically, and the healthcare system in Canada duly.  In addition, there are factors such as nursing scholarships and job placements that make the nursing education more attractive for students. A country like Canada understands the importance of higher wages for nurses to increase the nurse labor supply. Opportunities Abound for Nurses:  Efforts are being made to increase the employment of these nurses at a substantial rate, much quicker as compared to other occupations. The nursing shortage is a problem that needs a proactive and multidimensional response for keeping up with the pace of staffing demands and patients’ needs in the near future.  The good thing is that solutions are out there and all that is needed is a determination for meeting challenges. A tangible recommended solution for overcoming the nursing shortage is the optimization of the nurse-to-patient ratio and an increase in wages. Canada considers the importance of providing high-quality education very seriously and is open to welcome students for nursing study in Canada.  The nursing shortage has created many opportunities for internationally educated nurses in the field. Nursing in Canada has witnessed a significant employment growth with opportunities existing in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and home healthcare settings. There are also opportunities to work as faculty members, nursing leaders, and managers in different organizations. 

Conclusion: 

As the nursing population ages and skilled healthcare reform increases access to the healthcare system, qualified and skilled nurses will remain in high demand to ensure effective healthcare solutions. The healthcare system needs nurses if Canada is to continue delivering high-quality medical care.  Educating and recruiting more nurses eases the pressure on hospitals, patients, physicians, and even other nurses. Hence, there are excellent employment opportunities for nurses who dream of a successful career in Canada. 

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