In our Internet-based summons for readers to top (bottom?) last year’s “Worst Jobs” list, nurses nominated themselves in droves: “Still a no-respect profession. Doctors treat you like slaves.” “The pay is substandard for all the training.” “Just look at the current shortage.” Indeed, the
government estimates that we’re short 110,000 nurses, and that by 2008 we’ll need half a million more.
Numerous studies echo the dissatisfaction of our nurse readers. Nurses are fleeing the profession because of stress, long hours, low pay and lack of advancement opportunities. The cost? A recent University of Pennsylvania study found that surgical patients at hospitals with the worst nurse-staffing levels (ergo the most overworked nurses) have a 31 percent greater chance of dying. If this trend doesn’t improve, we might soon find “patient” topping our list.