Worsening Global Health Workforce Shortage: What’s Being Done?

JM: photo emailed to you. Photo is of Frances Day-Stirk, president of the International Confederation of Midwives, and David Benton, CEO of the International Council of Nurses. Photo courtesy of Marilyn DeLuca, consultant, Global Health - Health Systems  and adjunct associate professor, College of Nursing, New York University. Frances Day-Stirk, president, International Confederation of Midwives, and David Benton, CEO of International Council of Nurses. Photo courtesy of Marilyn DeLuca.

By Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editor-in-chief

While it might seem—based on what we see in our own country—that there is no shortage of health care workers, there is indeed a global shortage and it’s only going to get worse. We reported on the global health workforce last year; new reports are revealing just how much worse things may get. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by 2035 there will be a shortage of 12.9 million health care workers; currently, there is a shortage of 7.2 million.*

The shortage is being exacerbated by a confluence of occurrences:

  • the aging population is living longer and with more illness
  • noncommunicable chronic illnesses like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are increasing worldwide
  • many undeveloped countries lack educational facilities for training new professionals
  • experienced health care workers migrate to developed countries for better working conditions and pay

Discussions focused on how nations individually and together can develop and strengthen the workforce to meet Millenium […]

A Voice That People Will Hear: Tips on Getting Letters to the Editor Published

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

We get some interesting “letters to the editor” delivered to AJN’s editorial offices.

Many are what you might expect: letters disagreeing with an article or letters supporting an article, letters from retired nurses about how nursing has changed, and letters from students who write as part of a class assignment. Occasionally, we get letters worthy of framing, like a recent letter from a member of the U.S. Congress (we were delighted to find that members of Congress read AJN). We also get heartfelt letters from patients extolling the virtues of nurses who changed their lives.

The letters from nurses who support an article are in sharp contrast to those written out of disagreement. The supporters usually contain a poignant personal story or an argument based in professional experience or actual research, while the majority of those who don’t like something we’ve published are vehement and sometimes downright crude in their language.

We’re getting used to that, but we still wish it weren’t so, because we can’t publish those letters. (After receiving an especially vitriolic letter, former editor-in-chief Diana Mason wrote this editorial.) I received one the other day that began, “Those people . . . are laughable and pathetic.” And that was a mild one. […]