The American Nurses Association (ANA) has urged the Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) to address the desperate shortage of nurses across the United States urgently. They asked the Administration to declare a national nurse staffing crisis and immediately identify and implement solutions.
Shortage of Nurses Has Arrived at Emergency Level
Every day for the past couple of weeks, US news channels have been filled with reports on nurse shortages at hospitals, in towns, and statewide. They cannot recruit enough nurses to care for the soaring number of COVID-cases brought on by the Delta variant.
A lot of nurses, who have fought through about 2 years of the pandemic, are retiring or resigning. Some are leaving their current jobs to fill shortages in hospitals offering huge sign-on bonuses and higher pay.
ANA’s Proposed Solutions to shortage of nurses in the US.
The ANA suggested a whole government approach to finding and implementing solutions for the nurse staffing crisis involving all stakeholders. As a starting point for discussions, the ANA attached extensive documents with proposed policy solutions.
To address the nurse staffing crises, the ANA suggested that the HHS do the following:
- Convene all relevant stakeholders to discuss the staffing challenges, not only related to nursing but the healthcare system as a whole. The purpose of the discussion would be to come up with short- and long-term solutions.
- Work with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to find ways to appropriately reimburse services provided by registered nurses and ANPs, recognizing them as primary care providers and ensuring pay equity.
- Provide additional resources to support and increase nurse recruitment and retention to meet the current demand for critical health services created by the pandemic.
- Remove regulatory barriers which prevent APRNs from practicing to the full extent of their education and training. The ANA calls for the permanent lifting of various restrictions on their scope of practice, many of which were waived in response to the pandemic.
- Continue educating the public on the importance of the COVID vaccine and providing support and resources for the distribution and administration of vaccines.
- Work with the nursing profession to ensure a resilient nursing workforce, able to meet the current and future demands for healthcare delivery. This includes effective workforce planning and also addressing a wide range of challenges, such as prioritizing nurses’ mental health, appropriate compensation to ensure retention, a supportive working environment that also involves nurses in decision making, and re-evaluating electronic health records requirements where they have become a burden which reduces nurses’ time with their patients.
The ANA committed to working with HHS and other stakeholders to address the current nurse shortage crisis and to find ways of ensuring a strong nursing workforce for the future.
“Our nation must have a robust nursing workforce at peak health and wellness to administer COVID-19 vaccines, educate communities, and provide safe patient care for millions of Americans,” said Grant. “We cannot be a healthy nation until we commit to addressing underlying, chronic nursing workforce challenges that have persisted for decades.”
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