U.S. Healthcare Workers May Not Be Prepared for another Disaster

It’s the same dilemma all over the country – there is a major shortage of nurses. And in light of the past hurricanes like Katrina, Wilma and Rita, the number of emergency preparedness health personnel would suffer quite a blow. There are simply not enough health care professionals to go around if a major disaster like a hurricane or terrorist threat like the World Trade Center happens again.

This is quite a problem the United States is facing, one that will not go away easily. A number of states are taking action to try to retain and recruit more nurses. However, will all those efforts work? The federal government has been getting into the act as well to try to boost the number of nurses practicing in the healthcare field. An increase in scholarships and more lenient loan programs to pay for online nursing school tuition are being put in place to make the nursing field more attractive and accessible.

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is urging the government to take bigger action against the nursing shortage. They say that in another fifteen to twenty years, if the shortage trend continues, the U.S. will be facing a huge crisis. In that time, a large chunk of actively practicing nurses will reach retirement age. That is why the governments – at both state and federal levels – must do something quickly to stem the flow of nurses leaving the profession and start an active recruiting effort.

Of course, the solution to the nursing shortage should begin right where it started – with the hospitals and other entities that slash budgets for personnel, which in turn places a huge burden on the remaining staff that must pick up the slack. There are numerous ways to manipulate the budget. If that means the CEOs and other bigwigs have to forgo a few raises or bonuses, so be it. The people in the trenches – the nurses – are the core of the health care arena. Everything possible should be done to get nurses back into the hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Because of this nursing shortage, important medical areas such as epidemiology, environmental health, and laboratories are hurt, and will suffer huge setbacks if another major crisis erupts on American soil. These fields help make great strides in promoting immunizations and other vaccinations for the underserved public as well as other educational programs. Remember, nurses are the foundation of the medical profession. Without them and their support, that foundation crumbles.

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