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Currently, a nursing shortage exists within the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, and a number of other developed countries. The majority of analysis refers to a shortage of Registered Nurse staff. The Canadian Registered Nurse shortage has been linked to longer wait times for hospital-based procedures, increased adverse events for patients, and more stressful work environments.[9] As the shortage of Registered Nurses increases, it is expected that there will be an increasing move towards utilizing unregulated healthcare workers to meet demands for basic nursing care within hospitals and the community

A nurse is a healthcare professional who, in collaboration with other members of a health care team, is responsible for: treatment, safety, and recovery of acutely or chronically ill individuals; health promotion and maintenance within families, communities and populations; and, treatment of life-threatening emergencies in a wide range of health care settings . Nurses perform a wide range of clinical and non-clinical functions necessary to the delivery of health care, and may also be involved in medical and nursing research.

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Internationally, there is a serious shortage of nurses. One reason for this shortage is due to the work environment in which nurses practice. In a recent review of the empirical human factors and ergonomic literature specific to nursing performance, nurses were found to work in generally poor environmental conditions. DeLucia, Ott, & Palmieri (2009) concluded, "the profession of nursing as a whole is overloaded because there is a nursing shortage. Individual nurses are overloaded. They are overloaded by the number of patients they oversee. They are overloaded by the number of tasks they perform. They work under cognitive overload, engaging in multitasking and encountering frequent interruptions. They work under perceptual o verload due to medical devices that do not meet perceptual requirements (Morrow et al., 2005), insufficient lighting, illegible handwriting, and poor labeling designs. They work under physical overload due to long work hours and patient handling demands which leads to a high incidence of MSDs. In short, the nursing work system often exceeds the limits and capabilities of human performance. HF/E research should be conducted to determine how these overloads can be reduced and how the limits and capabilities of performance can be accommodated. Ironically, the literature shows that there are studies to determine whether nurses can effectively perform tasks ordinarily performed by physicians. Results indicate that nurses can perform such tasks effectively. Nevertheless, already overloaded nurses should not be given more tasks to perform. When reducing the overload, it should be kept in mind that underloads also can be detrimental to performance (Mackworth, 1948). Both overloads a nd underloads are important to consider for improving performance."

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Typically, nurses are distinguished from one another by the area they work in (critical care, perioperative, oncology, nephrology, pediatrics, adult acute care, geriatrics, psychiatric, community, occupational health, etc.). Bodies such as the American Nurses Association and the Canadian Nurses Association have both supported a move towards the creation of national specialty certifications, in order to support more specialized nursing roles. As nursing roles and specialties are continually changing, the International Council of Nurses states that nursing education should always include continuing education activities; while educational preparation is expected to vary between countries, all nursing jurisdictions are encouraged to promote continuing education as an important form of professional education.

Nursing education varies widely, and continues to produce an array of options as nursing roles evolve and also expand in scope. Education al preparation as a nurse may include certificate, diploma, associates, bachelors, masters or doctoral preparation.

Around the world, nurses have been traditionally female. Despite equal opportunity legislation nursing has continued to be a female dominated profession. For instance, in Canada and America the male-to-female ratio of nurses is approximately 1:19. This ratio is represented around the world. Notable exceptions include: Francophone Africa, which includes the countries of Benin, Burkino Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Guinea, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, and Togo, which all have more male than female nurses. In Europe, in countries such as Spain, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, and Italy, over 20% of nurses are male

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