Wednesday July 2 2014

There’s need to recruit more nurses to fill the shortage gap

Nursing shortage is a situation where the demand for nursing professionals such as registered nurses, enrolled nurses exceed the supply either locally, nationally or globally. It can be measured, for instance, when the nurse to patient ratio, nurse-population or the number of job opening necessitates a higher number of nurses working in healthcare than is currently available.
Uganda has a nurse–patient ratio of 6 to 100,000 against World Health Organisation’s recommended ratio of 2.5 to 1000.
A survey revealed by International Council of Nurses, the global federation of nurses association rates Uganda the lowest of countries surveyed. Uganda has 44,009 nurses serving a population of about 34 million. The patient to nurse ratio is not only affecting patients but also nurses who are at risk of emotional exhaustion, stress, increased risk of error, there by compromising patient safety, increased occupational injury, increase in nurse turn over, there by leading to greater costs for the employer and the health care system.
To address the nursing crisis, we need to consider several strategies. First concerted efforts must be made to make the working the environment attractive. Statistics show that Ugandan nurses are poorly remunerated in comparison to their counterparts in the region.
The government needs to increase nurses salaries in order to motivate them, retention and recruitment are important methods to achieve a long term solution to the nursing shortage. The government should allow nurses to specialise in various fields like oncology ,intensive care unit ,renal medicine, neurology, etc.
Nursing schools should start graduating more nurses to meet the current demand. Although enrollments are increasing slightly, ministry of education should increase the financial aid to students in the form of scholarships, and targeting unrepresented and non-traditional groups such as men and other minorities.
Hospitals and other institutions should know how to motivate their nurses by recognising their hard work. Encourage those who have left the nursing careers to return to the work force. Create opportunities for nursing research. Nurses are the backbone of healthcare and play an important role in society. With their focus on patient’s needs, they are the “cement” that holds the nation’s healthcare sector together.
I call upon all stakeholders, ministry of Education and ministry of Health among others, to put up strategies on how to combat nurses’ crisis.
Dorman Ahumuza,