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Shortage of Nurses in Iceland

Iceland is experiencing a shortage of registered nurses. The University of Iceland has various plans on how to attract more people to the profession, among other things, by shortening the training requirements for those who have completed undergraduate degrees in other subjects, RÚV reports.

In the next three years, between 400 and 500 registered nurses will be graduating, compared with 900 who retire. At the same time, the number of elderly and terminally ill people is going up.

Sigríður Gunnarsdóttir, managing director of nursing, commented, “It’s one of our main challenges, both today and in the future, to ensure sufficient and appropriate staffing in health care in Iceland. A shortage of nurses is a large part of that [challenge].”

She voiced her concern about the inadequate number of RNs graduating: “Perhaps the main problem is that our approach isn’t systematic enough. We don’t have a clear enough plan of how many we are going to train in each profession, for example.”

The Department of Nursing at the University of Iceland tries to react to the problem in various ways, for example, by offering students training at a proficiency and simulating center, where acquire numerous skills before they begin clinical training in a hospital setting.

Helga Jónsdóttir, head of the Department of Nursing at the University of Iceland, pointed out that a lack of funding for clinical training presents a problem. She noted that those who provide clinical training are not adequately paid, and staff shortage at hospitals in the past 10-15 years, as well as an increased workload, has limited clinical training. “It’s much harder for staff at health care institutions to instruct, alongside [their regular work].”

One option the University has considered is to allow those who have completed a BS or BA degree in other subjects to complete a nursing degree in two years.

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