I agree with Donna E. Shalala and Linda Burnes Bolton in their Editorial, "The Initiative on the Future of Nursing" (September), that nurses are key to many issues surrounding the health and well-being of Americans.
Another issue is apparent to me, however, and it's regarding not the nursing shortage but the lack of available nursing jobs. This summer, I lost my job as a school nurse because of budget cuts. A friend of mine was laid off at a major teaching hospital, again, because of budget cuts. Another friend, who is earning her nursing degree and working as a nurse assistant at a large children's hospital, fears that she won't be able to work there in the future because of—you guessed it—budget cuts and hiring freezes. We have all searched in vain for jobs, applying to no fewer than 50 positions in different hospitals and nursing practices. An agency I've worked with was told by one school that they didn't want a nurse with a bachelor's degree. I was essentially told that I have too much education to be employed there.
Whether the challenge is to obtain reimbursement for hospital bills or funding for building projects, the result is that our schools, hospitals, clinics, and other facilities in which nurses serve will continue to suffer from lack of staffing. Primary and preventive care will suffer because both experienced and new nurses are not able to do the job they are passionate about. The nursing shortage may very well intensify—because of layoffs, hiring freezes, and employers' refusal to recognize the value of nurses.
Marisa Nash, BSN, RN
Arlington Heights, IL