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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