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Deprofessionalization and Staffing Shortages, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 522

Essay

Abstract

One recent trend in healthcare provision across the world has been the appearance of many paraprofessional positions. In basic terms, this can also be called deprofessionalization. What that means is that skill sets of medically qualified workers are cut so that more applicants can be assessed for available jobs. This has seen some jobs seriously reduced in status, and also pay. This paper will argue that such cuts and reclassifications of jobs can only do long-term harm to the provision of care, whatever their potential short-term benefits, most of which seem to be based on economics rather than originating from a position of providing the best care to all kinds of patients.

It has been true that in recent years America has begun to feel the effects of a shortage of qualified nursing and other medical professionals, across all kinds of care. While the factors behind this are varied, two important trends do emerge. That in America at least, a litigious culture has ensured that health providers have to put over a huge percentage of their budgets to cover potential malpractice suits. This has driven down the wage pot for doctors and other professionals. Another cause is the greater competition which is now out there from other lines of work and sectors of the economy, with the digital sector in particualr draining away some of the high calibre people who would have previously worked in medicine. Additionally, there is a further drain on resources because of the ageing nature of the American population. As both ‘baby boomers’ and their nurses become older, there will be additional burdens placed on care. (‘Healthcare at the Crossroads’, 2002)

The strategy of deprofessionalization was in part instituted to deal with this issue, but there have been a number of concerns about how it has impacted on the provision of care. It has been found that the standards of patient care rise when properly qualified nurses spend more time with patients directly. “A higher proportion of hours of nursing care provided by registered nurses and a greater number of hours of care by registered nurses per day are associated with better care for hospitalized patients.”(Needleman, Buerhaus, Mattke, Stewart, Zelevinsky, 2002) The deprofessionalization of nursing staff means that this kind of standard becomes impossible to maintain, as patients must rely on relatively untrained staff to carry out the same roles. By definition, untrained staff are not as likely to provide the kind of intensive nursing that many hospitalised patients require.

Deprofessionalization is the kind of quick-fix solution which is favoured by business operators rather than medical professionals. Evidence indicates that when staff are de-skilled in any way then they cannot provide the right levels of care required. If deprofessionalization continues at its present rates than the access of many people, especially those who are poorer, to be able to access the kind of care they require is going to be seriously compromised.

References

Jack Needleman, Peter Buerhaus, Soren Mattke, Maureen Stewart, Katya Zelevinsky,’Nurse Staffing Levels and the Quality of Care in Hospitals’, 2002, retrieved from: https://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/nursing-shortage-resources/NEJM5-02.pdf, 05/22/2013

Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organisations, ‘Healthcare at the Crossroads’, 2002, retrieved from: https://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/nursing-shortage-resources/JCAHO8-02_new.pdf, 05/22/2013

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