Reply by Peterson on Nursing Shortage: Not a Simple Problem – No Easy Answers

Dear Ms. Revels:

Thank you for raising an excellent point regarding retention of the existing nursing workforce.  You are absolutely correct that we cannot educate our way out of the current or pending nursing shortage. Nor can we substitute our way out of the current nursing shortage using nursing assistive personnel. Improving the nursing work environment makes sense not only for the nurses, but also for patient care. Through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), ANA works to promote the Magnet Recognition Program (ANCC, 2007). Using the 14 Forces of Magnetism, nurses and facilities can evaluate and address those practices that may be contributing to or detracting from a work environment that promotes excellence in nursing service. In addition, those nurses who are looking for a nursing position may consider asking if the facility is a Magnet hospital or are they on track for achieving Magnet recognition. 

Finally, there are issues such as staffing and mandatory overtime, that need to be addressed at the institutional level, as well as through public policy and legislation. Information on ANA efforts to address these issues and others that have an impact on the day-to-day work life of the nurse can be found on the Nursing World web page entitled 'Government Affairs' (ANA, 2007).

Again, thank you for your letter. I would agree that you are right on target. I wish you well in your career as a registered nurse.


Cheryl Peterson
American Nurses Association