The nursing shortage is seriously challenging hospitals to provide safe, quality care to acute and critically ill patients. Most frequently reported are the registered nurse (RN) shortages in intensive care units (ICUs) and stepdown units. Issues surrounding the nursing shortage are multifaceted and require comprehensive solutions. Although work place conditions are typically cited as the leading cause of the shortages, other factors, including a rapidly aging RN workforce, have been implicated. Furthermore, fewer young people are choosing nursing as a career and graduating classes of RNs are decreasing in size. Remedies for the acute and critical care nursing shortage will require highly innovative initiatives and multiple long-term strategies focused on forces driving the growing nursing shortage. One solution to workplace issues may lie in the philosophy of the Magnet Hospital program. The advanced practice nurse can play a significant role in providing leadership in addressing factors and designing comprehensive and innovative strategies directed at recruitment and retention of RNs in acute and critical care settings.

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