Saturday, December 10, 2005

Get me a Real Live Nurse! I'll Wait.

Cause this is only cute until your ostomy needs cleaning.

Newsweek doesn't always, in my view, get it right. However, this article on today's nursing shortage and its dire portents for the future surely does. Overloaded working conditions must be addressed, but it's very tough to ease the pressure on existing staff without enough people to fill the jobs.

I am fiscally stingy when it comes to the money that Big-g Government spends (allegedly) upon my behalf. This means Government generally ignores me or expresses derision through its actions, but either way, what I wish doesn't count much when they get to awarding themselves raises and cornerstoning museums and other local aggrandizements that I think ought to have to raise public funds directly. Oh, well.

What am I willing to see government pay for with my taxes, you ask? Why, education in fields that we as a nation urgently require. More enginerds and nurses to start. I think we ought to fully subsidize the education of any nurse contracting to actively work in the field for some minimum number of years. (May I officially beg now that this program not have a cutesy name or acronym "to appeal to the kids.")

I think we should pay to buck up the capacity and efficiency of nursing schools by working with leaders in the field. Because the military has well-tested methods to remedially educate troops when necessary before tackling advanced technologies, we ought to borrow from those models to create intensive schooling to address educational gaps after high school (sometimes tragically wide depending on the student and school system) that leave desirous nursing candidates unprepared for collegiate-level programs in science and health care. This I'd happily see fully funded, if efficiently targeted and transparently accounted for the purpose of graduating students who will benefit us all while building solid careers to support themselves and their families.

Plenty of people may have given up on the 20-something graduates who haven't educationally achieved yet, but we can't afford a lost generation of fools without practical education or those with meaningless Communication and Media degrees that offer no depth or breadth in anything particular. There must be at least a handful of these who'll be sharing the air for the next 50 years who'd make tremendous use of the chance To Matter.

This Nurse Bill notion may be attractive from warm-and-fuzzy and fearful self-preserving perspectives, but it's sensible, too. National medical costs will go down with more nurses through shorter stays, decreased secondary infections and other costly conditions which occur without attentive personal care. More and better nursing means in-home care becomes possible and effective for the booming number of aging and convalescent patients, freeing beds for more severe cases and thus reducing general health care spending. People who may have been downsized from heavy manufacturing or other industrial careers can be retrained for meaningful vocations with a future. The sick will undoubtedly benefit and return to contributory wellness sooner. This approach is as wise fiscally as it is caring and duh-smack-your-head obvious.

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