One of the largest sections of the health care profession is nursing. Nurses, including midwives, are accounted for nearly 50% of the health workforce. There is an estimate of 20.7 million nurses out of the 43.5 million health workers around the world. The nurses serve a critical part in providing medical care to the patients providing direct supervision across the care continuum. They are familiar with various medical equipment and techniques that help in both monitoring and assessing the patient’s health status and outcomes. Nurses are also considered leaders who spearhead systematical improvements to promote the utmost physical and mental care through guidance and continuous support. They are the bridge between the community and the physicians developing a synergized connection between the patients and the hospital. They are also educators who mentor those who will succeed them in the medical field. The nurses are an essential piece in the healthcare system.
With nursing being the largest profession in health care, there are still reports from WHO members that less than 3 nursing personnel per 1000 of a population (2017 Global Health Observatory). Due to the changes in demographics, nurses are always in demand. This is not only in effect to one country but this is a problem that is encountered worldwide. The places with the largest shortage of nurses are in South East Asia and Africa. The WHO estimated that we need an additional 9 million nurses by the year 2030 for all countries to thrive in health and well-being. The current demand for nurses is at 3.5 million competent workers and it is suggested that there will be an addition of 4.15 million in 2020.
With the increase in population, there is always a conflict with the health care supply and demand. There are multiple older nurses that are retiring and a lot of babies being born and need medical attention. This will then result in thousands of job openings. According to “Nursing: Supply and Demand Through 2020”, they predicted that the economy will create 1.6 million job openings to nurses in 2020. Out of the 1.6 million jobs, roughly 880,000 have resulted from the retirements of older nurses while the rest are newly created opportunities. The study also projects that the nursing workforce will be short of approximately 200,000 nursing professionals.
One of the greatest challenges that hinder the growth of nurses is the lack of clinical placement sites. With the lack of nurses on the field, a traditional-type of clinical experience in placement sites is limited. Apart from their regular duties as a registered nurse, they will also have to supervise the student which is quite exhausting. Insufficient nursing staff strains the efficiency of a healthcare institution driving nurses to leave the profession. It is just a chain reaction that affects the whole system. Lack of mentors will result in limited educated students and lack of placement sites will also affect their skills. If there are only a handful of well-educated nurses, it will not completely cover the needed number to ensure an efficient health service. With the decrease of active nurses in the health field, surely they will be one of the most sought-after professions this 2020.
But worry not; the world leaders have taken this matter into account. There have been documents published that will be used as a guiding framework to develop nursing. The World Health Organization Global Strategic Directions for Strengthening Nursing and Midwifery 2016-2020 is a tool that aims the member states to attune, expand, and execute policy intervention. This will empower nurses to effectively contribute towards the fulfillment of high-quality health care in response to the needs of the community. In 2019, the World Health Organization declared 2020 to be the year of the nurse and the midwife. The International Council of Nurses and Nursing Now are persuading everyone to invest in nursing to hasten the fulfillment of the promise of the Universal Health Coverage. The ‘Year of the Nurse and the Midwife’ will also commemorate the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale- also known as the “Lady with the lamp”. This will not only boost professional growth but it will also honor the hard work and sacrifice of every nurse.