5 Major Issues Nurses are Facing Today

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Smiling beautiful nurse in front of patient on wheelchair at hospital. Young friendly doctor consoling disabled senior man. Supportive young nurse looking at senior man sitting in wheelchair.

Most nurses love their jobs, but just like any other profession, they face their fair share of issues. Along with the usual demands of this fast-paced job, nurses are dealing with a shortage of colleagues, more paperwork and higher workloads.

While nurses face a wide range of problems, there are five in particular that are having a significant impact.

1. Burnout

Burnout is a common and growing problem among nurses. According to nursing.org, burnout is caused by work overload and an ongoing lack of support and job fulfillment.

Nursing is a stressful job – there’s no way around it. They deal with death and grieving patients on a regular basis. Nurses who work particularly long shifts or in high-stress areas, such as emergency rooms, are at an even greater risk of developing burnout.

2. Nursing Shortage

The U.S. is facing an ongoing shortage of nurses, and it affects the delivery of care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of registered nurse vacancies will be about 1.2 million by 2022.

A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that patient safety incidents were 10%-30% better when the patient-to-nurse ratios are optimal. When the patient-to-nurse ratio is not optimal, risk of patient death can increase by as much as 40%.

A shortage of nurses is contributing to the burnout many nurses experience and adds more stress to the job.

The industry is reaching out and hoping to diversify the workplace. We may soon see more male scrubs in hospitals and a greater diversity of nurses helping patients.

3. Workplace Safety

Nurses face a number of dangers every day on the job, from needlestick injuries to exposure to pathogens.

Depending on their workplace environment, nurses may also be at a greater risk of workplace violence injuries. Those working in inpatient facilities are more likely to be hit, kicked, bit and beaten. These injuries often go unreported and may even be considered one of the hazards of the job.

Nurses are also more likely to be bullied or harassed. According to a Medscape poll, 71% of nurses report being harassed by a patient.

4. Greater Workload

A shortage of nurses is also leading to an increased workload for working nurses. An RNnetwork survey found that 40% of nurses said they had less free time than two years ago because of their work.

The workload over the last two years increased for 46% of respondents, and 36% felt that their employers don’t support work-life balance as a goal. Only 22% felt less burdened by their workload.

5. More Paperwork

Many nurses join the profession because it’s challenging, interesting and gives them a chance to make a difference in people’s lives. But about 15% of nurses who responded to the RNnetwork survey said they spent too much time on paperwork. The same percentage of nurses said they don’t get to spend enough time with their patients. And 19% of respondents said entering data into electronic health records (EHRs) is a reason why they considered quitting the profession.