AFT - American Federation of Teachers

Shortcut Navigation:
 
Email ShareThis

AFT Resolutions

THE NURSING SHORTAGE

WHEREAS, licensed nurses provide the majority of hands-on patient care in hospitals and other health care settings; and

WHEREAS, during the past decade, health care employers have cut the number of nurses in an effort to save money and remain competitive in an era of managed care; and

WHEREAS, many nurses were forced to leave the profession, or chose to leave the profession due to unsafe staffing and dangerous working conditions; and

WHEREAS, the average age of working nurses has steadily increased over the past two decades, with an ever-increasing number of nurses retiring; and

WHEREAS, fewer and fewer people are choosing nursing as a career as evidenced by annual surveys of the American Academy of Nursing Colleges, which show a five-year decline in nursing school enrollments; and

WHEREAS, several areas of the country are already experiencing a nursing shortage as evidenced by increased nurse vacancies and lucrative sign-on bonuses and other perks; and

WHEREAS, experts in the field predict a national nursing shortage unlike those seen in the past where new recruits were able to fill in the holes; and

WHEREAS, a nursing shortage will seriously affect the working lives of FNHP/AFT members as workers as well as every potential patient in any health care setting; and

WHEREAS, staffing levels of licensed professional nurses in our nation's hospitals and other health care facilities have been reduced to often dangerous levels as a result of managed care and other financially driven motives; and

WHEREAS, there are no national standards, requirements or guidelines for safe and appropriate staffing levels, leaving it to the discretion of management to determine how units should be staffed; and

WHEREAS, hospitals and other health care facilities are generally not required to collect data on patient census and staffing levels, and even those that do are not required to publicly disclose their findings; and

WHEREAS, there is no national data on the relationship between nurse staffing and patient outcomes that could support efforts to demand safe nurse-to-patient ratios either in contract negotiations or in state legislatures; and

WHEREAS, there is no national data on the effects short staffing may have on injury and illness rates among nurses and other health care professionals:

RESOLVED, that the FNHP/AFT recognize the important role registered nurses play in providing quality care to patients; and

RESOLVED, that the FNHP/AFT will work with all of its health care locals as well as other health care unions to attract qualified individuals to the nursing profession; and

RESOLVED, that the appropriate governmental bodies should provide research funds to determine the best methods for recruiting and retaining highly skilled professional registered nurses; and

RESOLVED, that we expand our efforts to organize registered nurses so that we can use the collective bargaining process to improve work practices and conditions in all health care settings that will allow for registered nurses to provide patient care in a safe, collaborative environment; and

RESOLVED, that hospitals and other health care facilities should be required to collect data on patient census, staffing levels and outcomes (in a nationally standardized method of collection) and to disclose those numbers to the public; and

RESOLVED, that the appropriate governmental bodies should provide funds for research that would determine the relationship between staffing levels and patient outcomes; and

RESOLVED, that the appropriate governmental bodies should provide funds for research that would determine the effects short staffing has on nurses and other health care professionals; and

RESOLVED, that the FNHP/AFT participate in such research to the fullest extent possible, ensuring that the concerns of front-line caregivers are acknowledged as research is conducted.


(2000)