The Nursing Shortage



orient resident orientation
patient available take care
menial caregiver personnel
despite registered qualification
deliver benefit pay/paid/paid
former workload responsibility
relief average short time
run save time put together
pick (2) choose short supply
run (2) primary enormous
aim optimal





Residents at this nursing home in Berlin might fall, have trouble with their orientation or find it difficult to move.

Petra Schulze and her colleague take care of them. These days, it’s almost a luxury to have two staff members available for difficult patients. In many homes, caregivers have to work alone.

Petra started working here six months ago. She was unhappy with her former employer because she was doing menial work, despite her nursing qualifications.

Petra: “Trained professionals are trained professionals. I say buttering bread is service work, although that’s not the case in some places. But here I’m free to practice my profession as a qualified nurse.”

And that means medical care. Schulze is a registered nurse with more than thirty years of experience. She only needed to make a phone call to get the job here.

Professionals like her are in short supply. Fewer are entering the profession because the pay is low. Schulze makes 2,200 euros a month, before taxes. That’s lower than the average wage in Germany.

Petra: “It could be higher because we have responsibilities. In general I find this profession is badly paid.”

Despite that, the work load is enormous. That’s why many leave after a short time. On average, caregivers for the elderly last ten years before they leave for another profession.

Petra Schulze’s employer has introduced some changes to make it easier for personnel. A pharmacy puts together the medicine for individual patients. That saves time for the nursing staff.

Petra: “It means some relief for me and the other professionals.”

Schultze knows that her expertise is in demand. She and her colleagues can pick and choose her employers.

Badly run nursing homes are often forced to close because no one wants to work for them. And that can only benefit the elderly people who need care.

Because the primary aim for professional caregivers like Petra Schulze is deliver optimal care for their patients.


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1. What are some difficulties elderly people have at nursing homes?

2. Petra was unsatisfied with her former employer. True or false? Why was she unsatisfied?

3. Is there a shortage or glut of professional caregivers?

4. There is a high turnover of caregivers. Is this correct or wrong? Why do many nurses quit after about ten years?

5. What changes has Petra’s nursing home made?

6. Is it easy for registered nurses to find work?
A. Are you a nurse or do you know anyone who is a nurse? What is it like working as a nurse?

B. Would you or your friends like to become a nurse?

C. Is there a shortage of nurses in your city or country?

D. Do trained nurses emigrate from your country or immigrate to your country or both? Why do they do this?

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