Christine Kessler, MSN, CRNP of Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. delivered the opening address at Nursing2010 Symposium in Las Vegas on April 6. In her presentation titled "What Would Florence Do? Nursing Past, Present, and Future", Kessler reported on experts' projections about the severity of the nursing shortage over the next ten to fifteen years. Kessler also warned that we should not assume that the nursing shortage is over because many markets that are experiencing a downturn in the economy have little to no vacancies. The global trend is that the aging nursing workforce will result in many practicing nurses and nursing faculty retiring at high rates. Kessler made optimistic suggestions for increasing numbers in the profession, and generated keen interest from a group of nurses traveling from Jordan who shared their story about the nursing shortage.
I met two of the nurses from Jordan at the reception that evening and asked them if I could share their strory in my blog. Randa, a doctoral nurse and Alia, a baccalaureate nurse, were eager to discuss how there is a shortage of female nurses in their country. They explained that not only are fewer women entering the workforce than men, but that the women often leave the profession when they marry and have children. A factor that compounds the problem is that in this predominently Muslim nation, there are religious traditions that dictate who can deliver care based on gender. Randa said that "men an women are separate floors in the hospital" and "women only are permitted to care for other women and children". Therefore, these nurses are very concerned about the quality of care of women and children. Randa and Alia are encouraged by the government's action of setting quotas in nursing schools that require admission of a higher percentage of females. Still they are seeking additional ideas from Nursing2010 Symposium to take back to Jordan and disseminate in papers and presentations.
Like these Jordanian nurses, nurse exectives, nurse educators, and government officials around the globe must collaborate to find realistic solutions to the nursing shortage. To learn more about the global nursing shortage, go to the International Council of Nurses website at www.inc.ch and the World Health Organization website at www.who.int.