President Obama's Healthcare Reform Plan: Investigating the benefit to the nursing population

The debate in Washington continues to rage with regards to President Obama's Proposal for Healthcare Reform. Although the sides remain divided, there is a strong push toward accepting the proposal now without further debate. Clearly this is a hot button issue that affects every American, but the impact of healthcare reform is substantial for the healthcare professional.

President Obama's plan deals heavily with the idea that middle-income earners who would normally not qualify for health care should receive benefits they can afford. He proposes a middle class tax cut that will allow those who could not afford health care premiums to obtain care. His proposal will also assist those who have small businesses, as it is often small businesses owners who forgo even the most basic of health care. In a country like the United States, those without health care often become seriously ill or even die because they cannot afford the cost of a doctor's visit.

Based on President Obama's plan, once these individuals have access to good health care, the medical community will need to be staffed adequately to provide that care. The Act will add more primary care providers across the Country, focusing on those areas where assistance is underprovided right now.

A specific focus of the Healthcare Reform Plan is on the current and projected nursing shortage. A huge problem for the United States, the medical community is bracing for a nursing shortage as the baby boomers begin their retirement. The current intake into US based nursing programs is not meeting the demand in medical care facilities. The Act will increase the amount of nurses in the United States, and assist in nurse retention by eliminating financial barriers that are preventing both registered nurses and nurse faculty from achieving their goals. In addition, the Act puts into place grants for nursing schools to both improve and retain nurses. Student loans will be increased, as will a nurse's eligibility for scholarships and loan repayments if they choose to become faculty.

President Obama's plan goes beyond the increased support of nurses in the United States. At the most basic level, the Act will assist students in public school programs to prepare for careers in health and medical. According to the plan, if health professionals support health sciences in the schools, it is far more likely that these students will enroll in post secondary medical programs such as nursing.

The President's Healthcare Reform Proposal is said to put the individual in the driver's seat as far as their health care options. As President Obama recently stated, "We have debated health care in Washington for more than a year. When's the right time? If not now, when? If not us, who?" Although there are challenges to passing such an Act, the issues of providing medical care to all who need it as well as the added benefit of combating the growing nursing shortage will far outweigh any detriments that may arise to changing the system.

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The Nursing Shortage in 2010: Overcoming obstacles and coming up with new strategies

The one thing that most people count on when entering a hospital is that there are going to be nurses to take care of them. Yes, we do see a doctor when we are there, but doctors come and go intermittently. Nurses are the people we rely on. They check us into the hospital, take our vitals, and ensure we are comfortable while we are there. Imagine walking into a hospital and discovering that there are only 2 nurses for an entire floor. This is a reality that the nursing community is preparing for, as the predicted nursing shortage is looming whether the USA is prepared or not.

There are many factors that have caused alarm within the nursing profession and have resulted in the prediction of a massive shortage of nurses by the year 2020. Nursing enrollment in Universities is not growing fast enough, and there is a severe shortage of faculty to teach those already enrolled. As learning institutions require an adequate nursing degree teaching staff to be in place prior to accepting students for enrollment, there has been a lower acceptance rate for those applying.

Nursing has maintained it's popularity as a career since the 1950's, but there has a been a decline over the years from the height of the baby boomers entrance into the profession. As these individuals grow older and move into retirement, there are fewer younger nurses to fill their shoes. Without a steady influx of students into the schools, the numbers of nurses leaving the profession cannot balance out with the number of students entering. As well, the nurses who are currently working in the profession have a high rate of burnout, which results in them leaving earlier than retirement ages.

The bottom line is that a lower nurse to patient ratio means that more people will be inadequately cared for and perhaps even die in emergency situations. The main strategies that are being put into place focus on education. The recently introduced NEED Act for example, will access Capital Grants to expand nursing school faulty and enrollment. Nursing schools are seeking partnerships with private sector companies in order to boost funds to create enrollment and offset the costs of running the programs. On a statewide level, Governments are looking for private sector funds to match the amount that the state can invest in nursing programs. A Nursing Education Capacity Summit took place in February of 2009, and health leaders from 47 states came together to rewrite policy on nursing education, retaining faculty, and curriculum.

It is truly frightening to think of what could possibly happen within our health care system if the current policy makers and educational institutions cannot come up with ways to combat the rising nursing shortage. Nurses are the backbone of our health care system, and without an adequate number of them in hospitals, care homes, and public health units, our growing population will suffer.

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