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Nursing shortage not as severe, but more nurses still needed

Although significant strides have been made to alleviate a nursing shortage predicted several years ago, more work still needs to be done to ensure there are enough nurses to care for patients in an evolving healthcare system, according to research.

Recent research by Montana State University Nursing Economist Peter Buerhaus and other experts shows a significant increase in nursing enrollment in recent years, along with a rise in the number of younger RNs in the workforce, according to a news release.

The study, published Sept. 21 in Medical Care, the journal of the American Public Health Association, was funded by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. According to the research, more than one million RNs in the U.S. are ages 50 and older, with a majority of them expected to leave the workforce in the next 10 years.

National campaigns work

Actions taken after the 2008 recession to address a potential nursing shortage have resulted in nursing school enrollments doubling in the 2000s. The amount of younger RNs also has doubled, which has brought a different perspective on the idea of a nursing shortage, the release stated.

“Seeing this coming cliff in nursing, there were national campaigns to encourage more people to go into nursing, which helped provide information about the nursing profession and create interest in a nursing career,” Buerhaus said in the release.

The number of new nursing grads who entered the workforce rose dramatically from 68,000 nurses in 2001 to more than 150,000 in 2012 and 2013, according to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. In the early 2000s, the department warned that the U.S. could see demand for RNs exceed supply by 2020.

But after the economic recession, many baby-boomer nurses chose to stay in the workforce longer, the release stated. “And as the healthcare industry continued to hire people while other industries were laying people off, students started migrating towards degrees that offered a better chance at getting a good paying job, and a job that was likely to bring personal satisfaction and reward,” Buerhaus said in the release.

Still, healthcare reform has meant new opportunities for nurses and roles that didn’t exist more than a decade ago, according to the news release. These new roles impact how nurses work with physicians to make sure everyone has access to quality care, the release said.

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By | 2015-10-15T16:08:48-04:00 October 15th, 2015|Categories: Nursing news|3 Comments

About the Author:

Sallie Jimenez
Sallie Jimenez is content manager for healthcare for Nurse.com published by Relias. She develops and edits content for the Nurse.com blog, which covers industry news and trends in the nursing profession and healthcare. She also develops content for the Nurse.com Digital Editions. She has more than 24 years of healthcare journalism, content marketing and editing experience.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Megan BOWEN October 26, 2015 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    There is a nurse shortage yet still they are not being hired. I have aBSN and I’ve been sending my resume to various facilities and organizations without replies.

    • Avatar
      Nursenabs November 1, 2015 at 6:37 pm - Reply

      The shortage you are seeing is for experienced nurses, which is the whole interesting conundrum: how do you fill those positions if you can’t get hired because you lack the experience?

    • Avatar
      Theresa S. Lynn November 2, 2015 at 5:54 am - Reply

      They don’t want to spend the money on nurses. I’ve worked almost 30 years in the same hospital. We never have enough help. We were asked at one time, “what would you like to help you to do your job better?” When we said we would like more nurses, we were told “that’s not going to happen.” I’ve seen them, the hospital, put money into marble flooring and brass water fountains. Can a marble floor or brass water fountain take care of you when you need help, when you a ill? Many of the nurses I work with feel the same way. The level of frustration is unbelievable among nurses. Something needs to change. There is too much work and too little nurses to do the work! If that’s not bad enough, the administration comes down on the nurses when they work “over” their time. Let me tell you something, we don’t want to be there a minute after our shift is over! I’m so happy my children were not interested in becoming nurses.

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