The Use of Unlicensed Assistive Personnel
Delivery of health care to society is one of the most challenging service deliveries in the medical field. Human health is one of the basic needs that a human being requires. The medical field is one of the most understaffed professions. There are various reasons for this shortage. One of the reasons is the prolonged training of the professionals. This causes students to be discouraged from pursuing the course. There is also a general lack of interest to pursue the course as it’s very involving. However, the main reason for the shortage is that most people require health care, and the staff available in hospitals cannot effectively cater to a large number of people in dire need of health care. The shortage in the profession mainly affects the nurses. This situation has in turn led to most hospitals seeking the services of unlicensed assisting personnel. Unlicensed personnel is medical professionals that are trained in taking care of patients. It is what nurses do to some extent but they are not licensed. They mostly work under the supervision of the registered nurses in carrying out their duties.
In the past hospitals rarely required the services of UAP, however, recently the number of people in need of medical care increased and the number of nurses was reduced. The hospitals as a remedy are seeking the services of the UAP. The other contributing factor is the fact that the UAP is affordable. The largest part of most hospital budgets goes to the nursing sector. Therefore, as a way of optimizing these costs, hospitals tend to employ unlicensed assisting personnel (Kleinman and Saccomano, 2006).
There are various shortcomings associated with unlicensed personnel. First of all, there is an obvious fact that the unlicensed personnel is not effectively trained, unlike the other nurses. Therefore, nurses must assume the supervisory role over the unlicensed worker. This is disadvantageous to the nurse as her duties are increased reducing her rather constricted efficiency. This is a very compromising situation putting into consideration the fact that nurses are poor at the supervisory role. (Anthony et al, 2001).
Secondly, in the course of the daily duties of the unlicensed nurse, she is prone to act irresponsibly or administer the wrong drugs to a patient or disregard the ethics of the medical profession. This would put the licensed nurse in jeopardy since she is supervising.
The other factor to be considered is the efficiency of the unlicensed worker. If he or she is incompetent in the course of his or her duties, a possibility of litigation may arise. This will not only affect the reputation of the nurse, but also the reputation of the respective hospital. If the hospital’s name is tarnished, it creates an economic crisis to the hospital as well as a health hazard for the community around which is always in dire need of health care.
The question that arises is what alternatives are there to rectify the situation and what are the available remedies? The following alternatives should be recommended. First and foremost is that hospitals should come up with ways of soliciting funds for their hospitals. This can be through donor funds and assistance from the government. The other alternative is through training of unlicensed workers. By training them they can effectively be incorporated within the proper nursing profession. Lastly, nurses should be trained on delegation of duties of health care so that the hospitals could reduce reliance on the skills of unlicensed workers to delegate duties (MNA, 2011).
In each of the above alternatives, there are associated pros and cons. In the first alternative, it’s not always easy for hospitals to get the necessary funds to run the hospital. Sometimes hospitals have to rely on well-wishers and non-governmental organizations to finance their activities. Thus the alternative is not always reliable. The other option which is a training of the unlicensed workers is indirectly related to the issue of funds. With limited funds, it’s hardly possible to train them. Another consideration is the fact that with the busy schedules in the hospitals there is limited time to train the workers even with the availability of the money to train them. On the issue of delegation, nurses have a rough time as delegation involves communication and team-building between registered nurses and unlicensed personnel. Nurses encounter difficulties understanding who to delegate and in what instances they should do so.
In conclusion, there should be careful deliberation when it comes to the issues of hiring unlicensed personnel. Various issues should be weighed before the final decision is reached. With careful analysis, untrained personnel may do more good than harm or vice versa.
It’s my recommendation that the UAP should be employed in hospitals to enable effective delivery of health services in hospitals. Nurses should, however, be educated on carrying out their supervisory roles effectively. Later on, the UAP should be trained so that they are incorporated within the proper nursing profession. This way the hospitals can be assured of competent professions who will in turn deliver quality services to the society.
Anthony, M. K et al. (2001). Outcomes management for nursing practice. 5(1). LIPPINCOTT: USA.
Kleinman, C. S & Saccomano S. J. (2006). Registered nurse and unlicensed assistance. Slack incorporated: USA
MNA (Massachusetts Nurses Association). (2011). Accepting, rejecting & delegating a work assignment: A guide for nurses. Web.