Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Chairperson (Advisor 1)

Dr. Kimora Kachelmyer

Reader (Advisor 2)

Thomas Gergen


Two hundred years ago Florence Nightingale started the nursing profession down the golden road of evolution. Since then, the profession has evolved to become more technical and specialized, and its members have become more valued and respected. However, the recent trends of American nursing are changing and starting to tell another story. The story is that a nursing shortage is at hand. This shortage has evolved slowly but is growing quickly. Therefore, it is essential to understand the multidisciplinary roles of the professional nurse, in order to understand how the nursing shortage ultimately affects the quality of patient care in the health care setting.

Rapid and dynamic changes in health care delivery and policy-making environments have placed the issues of patient safety and quality of care at the center of health care and the nursing profession. The ever-growing nursing shortage and the ongoing restructuring of the health care system has resulted in a greater emphasis on cost-cutting measures, including a reduction in the numbers of registered nurses who provide direct patient care. With fewer RNs and lesser skilled personnel caring for sicker patients, patient care can and will be jeopardized, a cause for great concern by nurses, patients and their families.

While nursing shortages have occurred in health care throughout history, and especially since World War II, experts are concluding that this developing shortage is uniquely serious. Consequently, it will take an array of solutions and the concerted efforts of many people to rectify the issues that contribute to an inadequate supply of nurses. The solutions must also be crafted with the recognition that the nursing shortage occurs in a health care system that is already overstressed.


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