There is an increasing threat of a shortage of healthcare providers; one of the reasons being that many nurse practitioners are opting for specialization instead of going for primary care. This means that the primary healthcare providers are decreasing with each year either due to the disinterest of the new nurse practitioners or the aging of the senior nurse practitioners. This problem is predicted to grow significantly by 2030; it is estimated that the physician shortfall will grow from 42,600 to 121,300. This shortfall is also predicted among other healthcare providers. The two models that will suffer significantly from this shortfall are the patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) and the nurse-managed health center (NMHC). In both these models, the patients rely on the primary caregivers for their wellbeing but if there is a shortfall then these patients will not receive care within time. There are different methods through which this shortfall can be addressed and some of these will be explained in this paper in detail.
Increasing Training Funds
The Institute of Medicine has recognized that increasing the number of nurse practitioners will help in decreasing the shortfall. This can be achieved if more funds are allocated in training individuals for nurse practice. The advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are qualified enough to diagnose, suggest and interpret tests. These activities can take off the workload of the physicians who have many patients to care for. The APRNs are also able to provide primary, specialty, and acute healthcare; as they have advanced medical knowledge. This means that they can be easily rotated among the departments that are facing short staffing and relieve the workload. So encouraging more nurse practitioners to opt for APRN by getting a higher education can decrease the staffing shortfall. The schools have also increased the number of students that can enroll in their nursing programs to help with the shortfall, however; increasing the training funds and scholarships will prove more effective in encouraging people to enroll in nurse training programs. This in turn will help in reducing the growing threat of short staffing (Malhi, 2018).
Increasing Funds for NP-Led Clinics
Primary healthcare in rural states is one of the biggest concerns of the United States, to address this issue, funds should be allocated to the clinics that are led by nurse practitioners so that primary healthcare can be made more accessible. Nurse practitioners are becoming an integral part of healthcare and they should be given all the help they can get to provide health care to their patients. It is apparent that the physician shortfall is greater than the nurse shortfall and not all clinics can have the required number of physicians so nurse practitioners should be aided to provide the necessary care in their stead (DiCenso et al., 2010).
Establishing Teaching Health Centers
Due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the strain on the healthcare providers has increased as the number of insured patients has increased significantly and the number of patients is higher than the number of care providers. A provision to mitigate the strain of increasing workload on the healthcare providers in the establishment of more Teaching Health Centers as these centers are designed to train more individuals for providing healthcare. These centers are community-based which can help in expanding and establishing more primary care programs (Chen et al., 2012).
Impact of Short Staffing on Patients
Due to the short staffing of physicians and nurses, the quality of healthcare will suffer greatly as the patients will not be able to get medical assistance in time which could potentially lead to higher mortality rates. This can further lead to mistakes in diagnosis, missed appointments, and inadequate care. Patients will not feel safe as there will be a higher risk of getting infections, complications, and death. The trust between the patients and healthcare providers will diminish significantly (Clarke & Donaldson, 2008).
Impact of Short Staffing on Other Staff Members
The amount of work on the available will increase drastically which means that they would have to work around the clock without any proper break. This will not only affect their physical health but will also take a toll on their mental health leading to work burnout. If these conditions persist many staff members also decide to quit their jobs as they can no longer cope with the increasing workload. An inhumane work environment can lead to poor care provided to the patients which can also be stressful and lead to health issues among the staff as well (Haegdorens et al., 2019).
Short staffing is becoming a growing concern in the healthcare system of the United States. Many steps are being taken to limit the impact of staffing shortfall in the future but if these measures fail then the healthcare system will suffer significantly. Proper steps should be taken to finance the healthcare system so that proper changes can be made to the healthcare system that will improve the decreasing staff. This is extremely important as the quality of healthcare will suffer greatly if this problem is not overcome in time.
Chen, C., Chen, F., & Mullan, F. (2012). Teaching Health Centers: A New Paradigm in Graduate Medical Education. Academic Medicine : Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 87(12), 1752–1756. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182720f4d
Clarke, S. P., & Donaldson, N. E. (2008). Nurse Staffing and Patient Care Quality and Safety. In R. G. Hughes (Ed.), Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2676/
DiCenso, A., Bourgeault, I., Abelson, J., Martin-Misener, R., Kaasalainen, S., Carter, N., Harbman, P., Donald, F., & Kilpatrick, D. B.-L. and K. (2010). Utilization of Nurse Practitioners to Increase Patient Access to Primary Healthcare in Canada – Thinking Outside the Box. Nursing Leadership, 23(Special Issue). https://www.longwoods.com/content/22281/nursing-leadership/utilization-of-nurse-practitioners-to-increase-patient-access-to-primary-healthcare-in-canada-th
Haegdorens, F., Van Bogaert, P., De Meester, K., & Monsieurs, K. G. (2019). The impact of nurse staffing levels and nurse’s education on patient mortality in medical and surgical wards: An observational multicentre study. BMC Health Services Research, 19(1), 864. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-019-4688-7
Malhi, S. (2018, October 16). Health-care shortage can be solved by increased funding for education and training [Text]. TheHill. https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/411708-health-care-shortage-can-be-solved-by-increased-funding-for-education-and