With a shortage of more than 200,000 qualified nurses in doctors within the NHS, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say these shortages have reached a holding pattern in the critical range. As well, with the growing number of seniors requiring greater-than-average care and treatment, this crisis is going to get worse over the next couple decades. Unfortunately, even then there won’t be an end in sight because Millennials, the largest group to date, will also be requiring the ‘normal’ care and the strain will continue to grow.
However, and even though it does nothing to solve the problem here at home in the UK, we are not alone in this shortage. Our friend and ally to the west, the United States, is also facing shortages which suggests an epidemic in the developed world. But why is this and is there any solutions in sight?
1. Technology is Outpacing Most Other Careers
Part of the reason we are facing a shortage in medical professionals, is the fact that technology of all kinds is outpacing most other careers. At the rate it is advancing and as the demand for newer and more innovative technologies continues to grow, workers in the tech industry are fetching higher wages. It’s really quite simple. However, the workaround is there, it’s only to be seen and perhaps both nations can grow their workforce proportionately.
The key is in the wage differential between a staff nurse and one with an advanced degree such as a master of science in nursing. Whether a nurse enters an administrative position with that advanced degree or simply adds that accomplishment to his or her CV, they can ask higher wages due to an advanced level of education. Both countries’ pay scales are roughly based on education and experience, which would also tend to entice nurses into the profession with a higher degree.
2. A Look at the Severity of the Shortage
Across the pond in the United States, it is estimated that at least one million nursing positions will be open and needing to be filled by the year 2022. That’s just five years away and a terribly huge amount of nursing vacancies to fill! In the UK, although it doesn’t look it, if you were to do a per capita comparison, we would be in even direr straits as we have over 200k positions to fill, so based on our total population and theirs, our shortage of qualified nurses, even those with a masters of science in nursing degree is the more severe of the two. Now factor in the shortage throughout the EU and you will see that healthcare is an industry that needs a huge boost if patients are to get the care they require.
Even with major investments in healthcare technology, there is still a desperate need for qualified nurses, GPs and clinicians to fill the void so that patients can be given adequate care. Perhaps promoting a higher degree which carries higher pay may solve a portion of the problem, but at the moment, the shortage puts the industry in crisis so an answer must be found.