Georgia Faces Nursing Shortage

Nursing homes rely on a number of staff members to provide care for both their long-term and their short-term residents. Many of these staff members are simply nurse’s aides or administrative staff members, but there is also a need for registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). The differences are mostly in education and responsibility. Registered nurses have, at minimum, a two-year degree or a three-year diploma. Many LPNs have completed a one-year program in nursing education. Both are invaluable in long-term care facilities, but Georgia has a shortage of RNs, as the Marietta Daily Journal reports.

One of the aspects that Medicate rates nursing homes on is the number of hours that a registered nurse is available to care for patients in the facility.

According to Kaiser Health News, many of Georgia’s nursing homes were rated at below average or much below average in this respect. According to the report, of 346 nursing homes that were rated, 163 of those homes, or 47% received ratings of registered nurse staffing at “much below average” or “below average.”

Narrowing the focus to Cobb County, only one of the 12 rated nursing homes had an above average rating. Seven were rated at average and four were below average when it comes to registered nursing staffing.

The shortage of RNs has caused nursing home to give more duties to LPN’s, who must undergo additional training. This training takes away from the time that they are able to perform their duties.

Another reason for the shortage of RNs may lie in the fact that the reimbursement rate from Medicare and Medicaid for registered nurses cannot compete with the wages and benefit packages of other health care provider groups and non-health care employers.