National Security at Risk: Lack of Nurses Impacts Military

The head of the Defense Health Agency has emphasized the pressing issue of the shortage of nurses in the Military Health System.

The agency, responsible for providing medical care to military personnel and their families, emphasized that ensuring quality patient care requires a substantial increase in the number of professional registered nurses.

This applies to both the Veterans Health Administration and the broader civilian healthcare industry.

The Impact of Nursing Shortage

The head of the Defense Health Agency has drawn attention to the dire need for more nursing staff within the Military Health System.

This important agency, responsible for providing healthcare to our military and their dependents, has emphasized the quality of patient care cannot be sustained without a significant increase in the number of professional registered nurses.

This issue affects not only the Veterans Health Administration, but also the wider civilian healthcare industry.

The shortage of skilled nursing professionals, both in uniform and as civilians, is causing a decline in the standard of care delivered within the Military Health System. This negatively impacts patient outcomes and results in higher healthcare expenses for the nation as a whole.

For the Department of Defense, the scarcity of nurses and other uniformed medical personnel also poses a threat to the readiness of military medical units to fulfill their obligations to national security.

Addressing the National Nursing Shortage Crisis

With the nursing shortage being a national crisis, it’s crucial that Congress takes swift action.

A collaborative effort between leaders in the Department of Defense and civilian sectors, along with policymakers, is necessary to develop a comprehensive strategy to tackle the shortage head-on.

Only then, with the support of adequate funding from Congress, can the current shortage be effectively addressed and put measures in place to prevent future shortages from happening.

ROA believes it is crucial for Medicare to extend its support beyond just physician training and invest in academic nurse education.

Additionally, ROA proposes that programs managed by the Health Resources and Services Administration be expanded in order to produce more graduates and improve the quality of their programs.

To prevent future workforce shortages from occurring, ROA suggests establishing a Health Care Workforce Commission.

This would be modeled after the one authorized in the Affordable Care Act. Then, it would require providing it with sufficient funding to execute its mandate and ensure the stability of the entire healthcare workforce.

DOD must prioritize the nursing workforce by providing competitive compensation packages, just as it does for physicians. This would attract not only top talent, but also retain current nurses within the system.

Incentivizing and investing in the nursing workforce would align with the 1947 Department of Labor report, which suggested raising wages as a solution to the nursing shortage.