Letter to the Editor on "The Nursing Shortage: Is This Cycle Different?"

The Nursing Shortage: Is This Cycle Different?

April 7, 2003

in response by Thomas McDermott to topic The Nursing Shortage: Is This Cycle Different? (Jan. 31, 2001)

Dear Editor:

I write in response to the topic of the Nursing Shortage. I think the nursing shortage is wonderful as it enables experienced nurses like myself to earn higher salaries, receive better benefits, and take advantage of many opportunities that would not be available if nurses had to compete for fewer jobs. I came out of nursing school in 1988. At the time, there was a shortage much like the one today, and nurses across the country were eager to end the shortage and in the process improve patient care. Several years later, managed care began to rear it's ugly head. Hospitals began downsizing, and many nurses (including myself) had to take pay cuts and benefit cuts. Additionally, many new graduates had trouble finding work as hospitals began laying off Registered Nurses (RNs), substituting Nursing Assistants for RNs with the hopes that this would improve patient care. When are nurses going to wake up and realize that hospital administrators are not interested in nurse-patient ratios or nursing job satisfaction? Hospital administrators are concerned with the bottom line; and nursing salaries are subject to the same supply/demand economics that control the salaries of plumbers, police officers, and yes, even physicians. I have no doubt that if the shortage is eliminated, nurses across the country will be forced to take pay cuts, and hospitals will again to substitute unlicensed personnel for RNs. When is someone going to do a study on how ending the shortage would affect the salaries/opportunities available to RNs in the workforce today? When will we learn to protect our own interests as well as the interests of our patients?

Thomas McDermott, RN, BSN
Staff Nurse, Telemetry Unit
Methodist Hospital
Philadelphia, PA