The Nursing Shortage Solved by…Greater Cooperation?

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The nursing shortage is an ongoing crisis, made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. Existing nurses are getting older, fewer new nurses are entering the field, and patients are living longer, which means they need more care. In an article for a special issue on nursing for the Journal of Managerial Psychology, Culverhouse’s Dr. Peter D. Harms and former Alabama student Dr. Graham H. Lowman—now at Kennesaw State University—argue that there is a need to harmonize and integrate research across the business and nursing disciplines in order to better address the nursing shortage. The authors observe that even when researchers are studying the same issue (the ongoing shortage of nurses), scholarship in the fields of organizational behavior, human resource management, and nursing often stays siloed in its own field—indebted to its own research methods, written in its own jargon—and generally ignores research from the other fields.

To address this, the researchers proposed a framework for integration outlining a series of related issues that contribute to the ongoing shortage, cascading from one to the other. A reduced workforce pipeline leads to a personnel shortage, which in turn leads to organizational concessions, followed by a poor work environment for nurses. This poor environment leads to negative work experiences, which cause burnout and turnover, further reducing the workforce and beginning the cycle anew.

Graphic from the article. Used by author permission.


Within each specific issue, the authors identified key areas of needed research. For instance, they wonder, how do nurses perceive the profession before they enter it? Or how do nurses evaluate the opportunity cost when they are deciding whether to pursue full-time or travel nursing? By positioning studies within their framework, the authors argue, researchers in all three fields can have productive cross-disciplinary conversations that point toward effective applied solutions.

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