5 Things Nurses Should Be Caring About Right Now
- Safe Staffing. This is such a hot topic in the nursing world right now, and should be! ONA is working tirelessly on safe staffing, and has been for quite awhile! Our first round of legislation passed in 2008 (after 8 years of hard work) with the promise to Ohio’s nurses that we’d be back if the law needed amending. After many years of focus groups, surveys and talking with nurses across the state, the time has come to revisit the issue of safe nurse staffing in Ohio. We (as in ONA members) passed 3 staffing-related reference proposals at the last ONA Convention, and a member-led Staffing Task Force has been hard at work since December of 2015 to start the fire of change. Important and exciting things are coming, Ohio nurses! Safe staffing saves lives!
- APRN Legislation. Many nursing organizations are pushing to give Advance Practice RN’s more autonomy, which will improve access to care in many settings. Recent areas of focus include giving increased authority in Veteran’s Affairs care settings, and the APRNs role in treating the opioid epidemic. (Interested in learning more? Click here.)
- The Opioid Epidemic. Opioid abuse, addiction, and related fatalities are at an all-time high. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “prescription pain reliever overdose deaths among women increased more than 400% from 1999 to 2010, compared to 237% among men”. Drug overdose is currently the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Nurses in many care settings witness the effects of these startling statistics, especially in emergency departments. Addiction is complicating the assessment and treatment of many patients, and nurses are struggling to meet the demands of these patients. Things like concern for withdrawal and “drug-seeking” are problems nurses today are facing.
- Mental Health. Approximately 43.8 million Americans experience mental illness in a given year (National Alliance on Mental Health). Similar to addiction, nurses are seeing mentally ill patients at an alarming rate. Substance abuse is even more prevalent in these patients, often complicating their care. Proper assessment and screening by nurses can help identify those at risk, and nurses can also facilitate getting patients the resources they need. Increasing the number of psychiatric care facilities and improving access to care can help this growing problem.
- The nursing shortage. With the steadily increasing elderly population, the US will need more nurses than ever. Additionally, more and more Americans are living with chronic diseases, and often not just one. Nurses are working more hours for more years, and yet there is still a need. Some nursing schools are offering incentives and scholarships to attract more students, however care facilities often turn their cheek at hiring “new graduates”. The field of nursing is, and always has been, an attractive career choice for both young students and those looking for a second career. Hospitals and other facilities may need to adjust to the demands of the community and offer different training programs for newer nurses in order to hire the amount of staff to care for all of these patients.
-Jessica Dzubak, RN
Originally written for ONA Connect