DENVER, CO-The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) announced that its members disagree with recent news reports claiming there is not a shortage of registered nurses in the US. Not only do they disagree with the statement, but members believe the shortage is becoming worse in surgical settings. A survey conducted by the Gallup Organization for Surgical Information Systems found the average number of unfilled nursing positions to be 2.14. AORN President Brenda C. Ulmer, RN, MN, CNOR, interprets this data to mean "on average, more than 17 nursing care hours per day are not filled in operating rooms across the country. This number of vacancies can create a significant clinical impact on healthcare quality. Vacancies create extra demands on existing staff as they must work increased hours and more overtime; take more on-call hours, and may not be able to take vacations, or even a lunch break. It also may mean that some elective surgeries may be postponed until adequate nursing coverage is available."
AORN provides additional information that supports the claim of a nursing shortage. At AORN's annual national conference, sales of exhibit booth space to nursing placement firms have increased by 63% in the past three years. Also, advertising sales in AORN publications have increased 19% in sales of recruiting ads for OR nursing positions.