Addressing the Shortage of Practical Nurses: Initiatives and Solutions

Addressing the Shortage of Practical Nurses: Initiatives and Solutions

Did you know that nursing is one of the largest professions in the U.S. healthcare workforce? Nurses offer patient care across hospitals, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, public health facilities, hospice programs, and home health agencies. Nurses save lives and improve a patient’s quality of care. That means nurses are vital to the healthcare industry. That is why a shortage of nurses can be a significant problem for the healthcare industry. However, the industry is addressing the shortage of practical nurses in many ways.

Why is There a Shortage of Practical Nurses?

There are many reasons for the shortage of practical nurses. From nursing retirement to the expansion of healthcare coverage, more LPNs are needed to support a diverse set of patients who all need proper healthcare. The reasons for the shortage include:

Nurses Retiring

A significant segment of the nursing workforce is reaching retirement age. The median age of licensed practical nurses is 53 years old, and many of these nurses will retire soon, leaving vacancies. An abundance of new nurses is needed to supplement the currently dwindling workforce. That means additional LPNs and RNs are required to support positive patient outcomes.

Baby Boomers Living Longer

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that by 2034, there will be 77 million people over 65. That would be more than the number of people under 18. As the population ages, the ratio of older adults to working adults will rise. This causes an increased use of long-term care and senior living services. Since seniors have more healthcare needs due to chronic health conditions, more nurses are needed to support this elderly population.

Overall Economic Conditions

Did you know that nurses account for approximately two-thirds of the healthcare workers in the U.S.? With the shortage of nurses and the increased number of open positions for nursing, we may see a trend that can negatively impact economic growth, causing financial implications.

In particular, rural communities have a more significant impact on the nursing shortage than metropolitan areas. Only 16% of nurses live in rural areas and serve over 52 million people who reside in those rural areas.

This shortage of nurses can be catastrophic. In addition to the effects on hospitals, patients, government, employers, and consumers, this shortage will significantly impact our entire healthcare system. This affects our national economy, raises healthcare costs, and reduces the number of nurses who can afford to work in the healthcare industry.

Expanded Health Insurance Coverage

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the U.S. has reformed healthcare law, making healthcare more affordable for those households with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL). The ACA has also expanded the Medicaid program to cover all adults with income below 138% of the FPL. Further, the Affordable Care Act supports innovation in medical care delivery to lower healthcare costs.

The Affordable Care Act requires insurance plans to cover patients with pre-existing conditions, free preventative care, more coverage options for younger adults, the end of lifetime and yearly dollar limits, and holding insurance companies accountable for rate increases. It also makes it illegal for health insurance companies to cancel health insurance for patients who become sick. The Affordable Care Act protects a patient’s choice of doctors and protects employees from employer retaliation.

The increase in households that can now afford healthcare increases the demand for medical professionals. Key to this are nurses, who support physicians to improve patient health outcomes. Nurses are the backbone of the medical industry and indispensable forces at medical facilities.

Nursing Schools Lagging Behind Demand

With the retirement of many faculty at nursing schools, there is a need for more appropriately trained nurses to enter the workforce. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), U.S. nursing schools turned away almost 100,000 qualified applications from BSN and MSN programs in 2021 due to insufficient faculty, classroom space, and budget constraints. This is where technical schools come in. With a shortage of nurses, LPNs can pick up the slack. And Ohio Business College is training LPNs to meet this demand.

Addressing the Shortage of Practical Nurses: Initiatives and Solutions

There are many ways that the healthcare industry is addressing the shortage of practical nurses. The initiatives and solutions include:

Legislative Action

The AACN is committed to supporting the education and healthcare communities to create highly educated nurses to meet the needs of the nation’s diverse population. AACN advocates for federal legislation and increased funding for nursing education with the Future Advancement of Academic Nursing (FAAN) Act. This act supports the nursing shortage monetarily and with concern for the mental health of nursing students. This includes promoting the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, Pell grants, Perkins loan program, and Graduate PLUS loan. Further, the AACN Act supports the transformation of research and data collection for the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR).

Lobbying and Advocacy

This effort includes advocacy in the policymaking process at the state and federal levels. This can help shape the future of nursing for the better. The changes can consist of employee health policies to keep nurses healthy so they can care for patients safely. Healthcare policies can help retain the current nursing staff by promoting employee health, wearing PPE, and other wellness policies.

The American Nursing Association (ANA) lobbies for workplace health and safety, appropriate staffing in medical facilities, and the reduction of gun violence. This can help retain nurses during this critical time.

Better Accommodations and Flexibility

To keep those nurses who may be burned out from the pandemic, nurse executives can create workplace cultures that entice experienced nurses to remain on staff. They can offer flexible schedules and create mentorship programs that can significantly impact nurse retention.

An Increase in Travelling Nurses

With the increase in technology, the flexibility of telehealth, and traveling nurses, current nurses can take on more flexible roles and enjoy career development. At the same time, new nursing students can be incentivized to join the nursing ranks to work in creative ways.

Greater Access to Education

Ohio Business College is dedicated to increasing the supply of LPNs in Sandusky to satisfy the demand for nurses in Ohio. With our Practical Nursing diploma program completed in as little as 44 weeks, more nurses can join the workforce quickly. Graduates will be ready to take the NCLEX-PN, become licensed as an LPN, and be prepared to join the healthcare industry.

How Do You Become a Practical Nurse? 

Attending the Practical Nursing program at Ohio Business School is a great way to become an LPN. The LPN program covers theory, nursing skills lab, simulation lab, and clinical experiences. Every new LPN course offers a unique opportunity to hone your knowledge base and skills that you will apply later in your career. The LPN program also prepares you to take the NCLEX-PN exam and become licensed in Ohio.

How Long Is an LPN Program? 

Did you know you can complete an LPN program in as little as 44 weeks? That is more than one year faster than becoming an RN. Becoming an RN requires an ASN degree, which can take 2 years to complete, or a BSN degree, which is a 4-year degree. Many entry-level nursing jobs require a diploma, and an LPN program is the quickest way to prepare for this life-long nursing career.

Final Thoughts

Ohio Business College is ready to support you in your nursing career. Our instructors offer guidance and mentorship to help you prepare to become an LPN. Once you graduate in 44 weeks, you will be ready to get your license and start working in the industry. Ohio Business College is dedicated to our students and the nursing community to reduce the nursing shortage and reshape the future of nursing for the good of humanity.

Want to Learn More?

The Practical Nursing (PN) Program provided by the Ohio Business College is 44 weeks or four quarters long. The program covers theory, nursing skills lab, simulation lab, and clinical experiences. Once you graduate from the PN program, you will be fully qualified to write to the NCLEX-PN® to become licensed as an LPN in Ohio.

Contact us today to learn more about our LPN programs.