Studies have identified gaps in healthcare labor with regard to economic reforms in the US. In particular, there is a shortage of nurses due to the rising unemployment rate and this is slowly draining the industry. Before this becomes a larger problem, several researchers are already theorizing strategies that could address the issue.
A study by the researchers from the University of Pennsylvania suggests ‘modernizing’ Medicare by developing the industry’s strengths instead of fixing its weaknesses. This study by Aiken et al. (2018) frowns on campaigns to have more nursing applicants which is currently the administration’s response. Rather, the study suggests the that the same finances should be used to develop graduate nurse programs as to institutionalize “permanent, national funding of training for advanced practice registered nurses”. The purpose is to create ‘expert nurses’ who are licensed nurse practitioners. According to researchers, the better alternative is to develop quality rather than quantity.
Researchers believe that this will not only remedy the problem but will even save money. Independent evaluations put doctor training close to $158,000 a year over multiple years compared to the $28,000 to $57,000 cost for training health practitioners. Medicare currently spends close to $15-billion annually on doctor training but spares little for nurse practitioner development programs. The outputs are not so disparate when it comes to general practice with their surveys indicating that patients are adequately satisfied with the care received from nurse practitioners.
However, for the strategy to work, it has to be adopted by Medicare at a national level. In an interview with the lead researcher, Dr. Aiken, she revealed that there are economies of scale to be considered across multiple universities, practice settings, and teaching hospitals. This disparity can eventually derail the push for quality in that people will always flock to the less expensive alternative. There has to be legislature for this to happen.
In making these changes, Graduate Nurse Education is predicted to make a positive impact on the healthcare industry. A quality workforce will be developed that can deliver the needed labor output at a more efficient rate in lesser time.
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