Nursing is a competitive profession that is often associated with ease in securing employment. Despite the existence of numerous job opportunities in the nursing field, nurses still face many challenges in their employment. The inequalities in the nursing profession are usually related to leadership systems, job and career development opportunities, and relationships between nurses and other healthcare practitioners. Despite the nursing shortage and the high demand for nurses in the healthcare sector, nurses like other professionals in different fields are usually faced with challenges in their jobs. Job-related challenges in nursing are usually based on the difficulties in securing a good nursing job that comes with a generous wage and additional health coverage and other benefits, while at the same time limiting nurses exposure to unhealthy working conditions like those characterized by discrimination.
The issue being addressed through this project revolves around jobs and the economy in relation to inequalities and injustices seen in the nursing profession in modern society. Common injustices and inequalities related to jobs and the economy in the nursing field are usually based on the allocation of employment opportunities, treatment of nurses in healthcare facilities, and other challenges experienced by nurses in their workplace. While concerns have been raised on nursing shortages in the healthcare industry, the problem experienced is not entirely based on the lack of qualified nurses in the job market but the treatment of existing nurses in healthcare facilities, hospital budget cuts that limit recruitment of more nurses, increased patients loads, and high turnover rates linked to poor working conditions. The issue of jobs and the economy among nurses is also linked to the lack of adequate numbers of sustainable nursing jobs that offer nurses adequate living wages and supportive working environments (Haddad, Annamaraju, & Toney-Butler, 2020). The problems they experience in their jobs are unjust because nurses are usually at the frontline in healthcare service provision and deserve to be treated with respect and accorded better working conditions.
Injustices in Jobs and the Economy
High Patient to Nurse Ratio
Nursing leaders and other healthcare practitioners in the US have complained about the shortages in the number of nurses working in clinical settings and the heavy workload linked to a high patient to nurse ratios. Many healthcare facilities have had to allocate more work to the available nurses to ensure that patients admitted in the units are treated. Today, concerns related to the shortages in the nursing workforce have increased because low staffing ratios have led to increased risks of errors. Many nurses, especially those working emergency settings, have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, back pain problems, and other health issues related to the high workloads (Bulut & Bulut, 2018). These challenges have contributed to increased rates of nurses’ turnover. Currently, the US is facing a national turnover rate that ranges between 8.8% to 37.0% depending on the state and other geographical factors like whether they region is an urban or suburban area (Haddad, Annamaraju, & Toney-Butler, 2020). The high nurse turnover rates have also contributed to a high patient to nurse ratio. It is unjust to expose nurses to these stressful working conditions where they are required to care for more patients than they can manage.
Heavy Workload and Low Wages
Injustices related to jobs and the economy in the nursing profession are linked to limited availability of resources to finance hiring processes for more nurses and high turnover rates associated with low wages. While the healthcare needs of the population have risen, the wages for nurses have not been increased to cater for the extensive workload that nurses perform in clinical settings. According to a survey conducted in 2016, the compensation for registered nurses had decreased by 3.1 percent in 2016 from 2015 and the average nurse was paid $61,875 annually (Zolot, 2016). While the compensation for advanced nurse practitioners increased, the trend of paying registered nurses (RNs) low wages while subjecting them to heavy workloads is unjust, considering the wages for other healthcare professionals like physicians and physician assistants has been on a constant rise. Some of the factors that were linked low wages among RNs included elimination or lowering of bonuses and reduced working hours (Zolot, 2016). Reduction in working hours did not necessarily translate to reduced workload, as nurses would still be assigned many patients. Offering nurses low wages and high workloads is an unjust practice that affects their quality of work and overall well-being.
Inequalities in Jobs and the Economy
Inequalities related to jobs and the economy in today’s society are linked to different forms of discriminations in the workplace. Gender discrimination is one of the main forms of inequalities in jobs. Since nursing was traditionally recognized as a female-based career, there is a low number of male in this profession. The percentage of male nurses is ten in the United States and one in Jamaica (Budu, et al., 2019). Although more men are embracing the nursing profession, there is still a wide gap between the number of male and female nurses. Male nurses are usually discriminated against because of their gender by not being offered equal training opportunities in areas like obstetrics and gynecological nursing. Male nurses also face role strains when working in maternal health units (Newham & Alderdice, 2017). While some patient might not have nurse preferences based on gender, others might insist on working with female nurses, thereby limiting opportunities for male nurses in postpartum care and maternal health nursing. The discrimination of male nurses in sectors like gynecology and obstetrics nursing affects male nurse ability to obtain job opportunities in these sectors.
Unfair treatment of nurses in the job and economy is also seen through racial and discrimination. Racial discrimination in nursing practice can be seen in cases where nurses from minority groups are not offered the same opportunities as others. Minority nurses usually experience barriers that affect their education and career advancement. These nurses are not represented well in senior leadership positions. They also lack social support systems in the workplace. They are also offered less career advancement opportunities when compared to Whites. In a study that examined the treatment of African Americans and Hispanic nurses in the United States showed that Blacks and Hispanics were offered low wages when compared to Whites. The pay variations were based on unexplained factors since the nurses involved in the study had all acquired the same education level (Moore & Continelli, 2016). The difference between the wages of minority races and the Whites is suggestive of racial discrimination.
Nurses with disabilities also face job and financial related inequalities in the workplace. Common issues affecting nurses with disabilities include being questioned constantly about whether they can perform their roles, being rejected when applying for jobs or fulltime positions. Although most healthcare facilities are usually eager to fill-up nursing vacancies, nurses living with disabilities continue to face discrimination when applying for such positions regardless of their education qualifications. Nurses living with disabilities are also offered limited career development opportunities and wages when compared to their colleagues. Nurses whose disabilities are unknown are usually afraid to disclose their physical or psychological limitations due to the fear of reprisals or stigmatization, which might occur in form of exclusion from career-advancement opportunities and limitation in job opportunities in some of the sectors in nursing (Davidson, et al., 2016). While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides protection for people with disabilities, nurses with disabilities still face discrimination in the workplace due to their colleagues’ perception of the challenging nature of the nursing roles and the difficulties that those with disabilities might experience.
Numerous injustices and inequalities linked with jobs and the economy exist in modern society. Unjust experiences are usually linked to inequalities like employee discrimination in the workplace. These unjust and unfair treatments of different groups of nurses often affect the quality of services provided by these nurses. Generally, nurses experience inequalities and unjust treatments based on their working conditions and discriminations against race, gender, and physical abilities. Inequalities in jobs such as those seen in variation in the opportunities offered to different nurses and wage differences between Whites and Blacks illustrates the rot in the healthcare systems that need to be addressed to form a cohesive society. Managing these inequalities and injustices could improve the interaction among people in areas of employment and improve the wages offered to employees.
Budu, H. I., Abalo, E. M., Bam, V. B., Agyemang, D. O., Noi, S., Budu, F. A., & Peprah, P. (2019). “I prefer a male nurse to a female nurse”: patients’ preference for, and satisfaction with nursing care provided by male nurses at the Komfo Anokye teaching hospital. BMC Nursing, 18, 47. https://bmcnurs.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12912-019-0369-4.
Bulut, A., & Bulut, A. (2018). The Prevalence of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Emergency Healthcare Professionals and the Associated Factors. International Journal of Caring Sciences, 11(2), 868-875. https://www.internationaljournalofcaringsciences.org/docs/28_bulllu_toriginal_10_2.pdf.
Davidson, P. M., Rushton, C. H., Dotzenrod, J., Godack, C. A., Baker, D., & Nolan, M. N. (2016). Just and Realistic Expectations for Persons with Disabilities Practicing Nursing. AMA Journal of Ethics, 18(10), 1034-1040. https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/sites/journalofethics.ama-assn.org/files/2018-05/msoc1-1610.pdf.
Haddad, L. M., Annamaraju, P., & Toney-Butler, T. J. (2020). Nursing Shortage. StatPearls.
Moore, J., & Continelli, T. (2016). Racial/Ethnic Pay Disparities among Registered Nurses (RNs) in U.S. Hospitals: An Econometric Regression Decomposition. Health Services Research, 51(2), 511-529. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4799908/.
Newham, J. J., & Alderdice, F. (2017). If gender matters in maternity care, does it matter in maternity care research? Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 35(3), 209-211. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02646838.2017.1288891.
Zolot, J. (2016). Salaries for Nurses Decrease, While NP Salaries Rise. American Journal of Nursing, 116(11), 16. https://journals.lww.com/ajnonline/FullText/2016/11000/Salaries_for_Nurses_Decrease,_While_NP_Salaries.14.aspx.