In response to the growing concern about the pending crisis on nurse-to-patient ratio in New York State and the alarming reports of the detrimental consequences of unregulated nurse staffing, I would like to request for a support from our government to address the current worsening conditions affecting numerous patients, nurses, and other health professionals in the State’s hospitals. The shortage in nurse staff has been raised since the late 1990s after New York State Education Department released several Regents Reports regarding the nursing shortage (2001).
Earlier then, it was predicted that there would be a potential crisis that will affect all New Yorkers for the next years of the issues is not resolved. Since then, there was already a critical shortage of qualified nurses and its effect are feared to be drastic that would endanger the welfare of patients, the future of health care professionals, and the quality and safety of the entire health care system in New York State. By 2008, the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that there will be a high demand for registered nurses (RNs) across the country.
During the early 2000, surveys indicated little increase in RNs employed and working full-time. In New York, the increase of RNs and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) was less than 10 percent. In 2001, there are only 234,000 RNs and 68,900 LPNs or 5 percent and 3 percent increase only from 1997 to 2001 respectively. New York was ranked to be the second to the last state in terms of the number of RNs practicing per 100, 000 people. There were only 843 RNs per 100,000. Numerous hospitals in New York reported of many RN and LPN vacancies higher than 70 percent.
Aside from the shortage in manpower, there has also been a problem with nurse supply, hospital emergency department, critical care units, and pre-operative units. All these increase the burden of nurses, requiring them to have specialized education and experience and the physical stamina needed for a demanding work condition. The Report also cited six factors affecting the shortage: (1) aging work force; (2) under presentation of minority groups; (3) more career opportunities for women; (4) inaccurate projections of need0; (5) workplace environment; and, (6) aging population.
In New York, the nursing workforce is consists RNs with an average age of 46 while the average age of retirees is 49. The number of RNs under 30 years old is very minimal. In terms of the minorities, very few practice as RNs while women are attracted to other work opportunities such as economics and law compared to nursing. Majority of the American population also does not prefer nursing as a career (New York State Education Department, 2001).
Given the low rate of young professional nurses and the increasing number of older patients, the nurse-to-patient ratio is very likely to increase and many patients will be left uncared for while nurses struggle to reach the demands of their work. Due to the nationwide shortage of nurses, it is easy for any registered nurse to be accepted as a health care professional. They did not have to go any farther to get a job however the number of RNs is still not enough. By 2020, the New York Academy of Medicine predicted that there will be a 25 percent shortage.
In 2006, the demand for RNs around the state is around 20, 000 and that every city hospital still has vacancies. Nursing schools on the other hand have few nurse graduates and the nurse teachers are very few especially those with master’s degree. In order to adopt with the demand, many hospitals often force nurses to work more than 12 hours but too many nurses argue of fatigue in several hospitals. A bill mandating an overtime but still pending since there are issues that need to be addressed first (Kesner, 2006).
Mandatory overtime seemed to be a fastest solution for nurses to cover each of the patients. Hospitals and health agencies are forcing even threatening their staff to work beyond 12-hour shift otherwise they will be reported for “patient abandonment”. Obviously, given the conditions and prevalent shortage, few people choose nurse as a career while those already in practice are not staying any longer and those staying are not satisfied with their condition (New York State Education Department, 2001).
Improvements in nurse staffing and work conditions have been reported in California after a law was enacted for designating nurse-to-patient ratios in order reduce the burden over the nurses. Nurses are now holding on to their jobs and the others are returning. Hence, a state legislation is needed to address the nurse shortage and regulate the nurse-to-patient ratio in New York State. Given the information gathered from various reports, surveys, and researches conducted in New York State and other regions, there really is crisis in nurse staffing.
Hence, through legislation from the State government, the causes and effects of the problem can be addressed even though gradually. In this letter, I hereby request for our state government to consider regulating the nurse-to-patient ratios in all hospitals to avoid patient deaths and physically arduous works of nurses. The evidence of its devastating effects are already at hand and needs immediate action.
I propose to consider increasing scholarship grants for the incoming nurse students and budget for school nursing facilities, and administer a nurse-to-patient ratio in order to preserve nurses and reduce the number of patients with severed illness due to lack of attention from staff. This might not guarantee a first class and fast solution but we are heading on to the right direction. Sincerely [Signature of Writer/Sender] [Name of Writer/Sender] References Kesner, J. (2006). Where are the nurses? In NYC and nationwide, many are needed – stat!
Retrieved April 26, 2009, from http://www. nydailynews. com/archives/entertainment/2006/11/02/2006-11 02_where_are_the_nurses__in_nyc. html New York State Education Department (June 21, 2001). The Nursing Shortage. Retrieved April 26, 2009, from http://www. op. nysed. gov/nurseshortage. htm The New York Times (October 23, 2002). Nurse-Patient Ratio Linked to Death Rate. Retrieved April 26, 2009, from http://www. nytimes. com/2002/10/23/us/nurse-patient ratio-linked-to-death-rate. html Welton, J. M. (September 2007).
Mandatory Hospital Nurse to Patient Staffing Ratios: Time to Take a Different Approach. OJIN, Vol. 12. Retrieved April 26, 2009, from http://www. nursingworld. org/mainmenucategories/anamarketplace/anaperiodicals/oj n/tableofcontents/volume122007/no3sept07/mandatorynursetopatientratios. aspx Western New York Area Labor Federation (2007). Nurse to Patient Ratios for New York State. Retrieved April 26, 2009, http://www. wnyalf. org/? zone=/unionactive/private_view_article. cfm&HomeID=702 0&page=N2EY2ES2E20Legislative20Bills.