Health

By the Numbers: Nursing Shortage Predicted, Warnings Unheeded

According to the “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast” published in the January 2012 issue of the American Journal of Medical Quality, a shortage of registered nurses is projected to spread across the country between 2009 and 2030. In this state-by-state analysis, the authors forecast the RN shortage to be most intense in the South and the West.

In October 2010, the Institute of Medicine released its landmark report on The Future of Nursing, initiated by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which called for increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce to 80% and doubling the population of nurses with doctoral degrees. The current nursing workforce falls far short of these recommendations with only 56 percent of RNs prepared at the baccalaureate or graduate degree level.

According to AACN’s report on 2018-2019 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 75,000 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2018 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, and clinical preceptors, as well as budget constraints. Almost two-thirds of the nursing schools responding to the survey pointed to a shortage of faculty and/or clinical preceptors as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into their programs.

The Health Resources and Services Administration projects that more than 1 million registered nurses will reach retirement age within the next 10 to 15 years.

In the September 21, 2015 issue of Science Daily, healthcare economist David Auerbach released findings from a new study, which found that almost 40 percent of RNs are over the age of 50. “The number of nurses leaving the workforce each year has been growing steadily from around 40,000 in 2010 to nearly 80,000 by 2020. Meanwhile, the dramatic growth in nursing school enrollment over the last 15 years has begun to level off.”

According to The American Nurses Association (ANA) (2018), there will be more registered nurse jobs available through 2022 than any other profession in the United States. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018) projects 1.1 million additional nurses are needed to avoid a further shortage. Employment opportunities for nurses are projected to grow at a faster rate (15 percent) than all other occupations from 2016 through 2026.

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