Nurses face daily battles to keep up with the demand for their services. Today, there are more Americans over the age of 65 than any other time in U.S. history. By 2030, there will be an estimated 70 million people over the age of 65. Of that population, many will have multiple chronic health conditions, according to Vice News.
While the demand for nursing is only increasing, the struggling healthcare system is driving down the professions appeal. Policy changes and increasing physical demands are two of the leading causes for the reduced appeal.
Decades of policy changes have resulted in shorter hospital stays for patients. When a new payment model for Medicare beneficiaries hit the U.S. in 1983, the average length of a hospital stay for Medicare patients was 10 days. In 2013, that number was 5.1.
What this means for nurses is a decline in job satisfaction.
Nurses are drawn to the profession because they want to fix people. When the priority changes from resolving the underlying medical condition to discharging patients in as little time as possible, many nurses job satisfaction levels plummet. As Jeanne Geiger-Brown, dean at Stevenson University’s School of Nursing said in the Vice News article, “It’s not very satisfying to just put bandaids on people who are really quite ill.”
Not only are healthcare workers overworked, they hold one of the most physically demanding jobs out there. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), reports that hospitals are one of the most hazardous places to work in the U.S.
According to that same report, on the job injuries and illnesses for hospital workers result in more days away from work than construction workers or those in manufacturing.
The rapidly growing need for nurses should serve as an impetus for improving job satisfaction. Increasing the appeal of the nursing profession will help to secure the robust workforce that is critical for the future of U.S. healthcare.