Nurse with Patient

According to the “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast” published in 2012 in The American Journal of Medical Quality, a shortage of Registered Nurses is expected to spread across the country from 2009 to 2030. The shortage is expected to be most intense in the South and West.

In an article called “Nursing Shortage,” the American Association of Colleges of Nursing lists the following contributing factors impacting the nursing shortage:

  • A shortage of nursing school faculty is restricting nursing school enrollments.

    Increasing the numbers of nursing school faculty will not be easy. The current nurse educators are growing older, and it takes time to develop nurse faculty with doctoral degrees to build programs. The cost of getting advanced degrees is also significant. Possible solutions include giving incentives to RNs to become nurse educators.

  • A significant segment of the nursing workforce is nearing retirement age.

    According to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, 55% of the RN workforce is age 50 or older.

  • Changing demographics signal a need for more nurses to care for our aging population.

    In a 2016 article entitled “U.S. Still Headed For Nurse Shortage,” Sallie Jimenez wrote, “Between 2010 and 2030, the population of senior citizens will increase by 75% to 69 million, meaning one in five Americans will be a senior citizen; in 2050, an estimated 88.5 million people in the U.S. will be ages 65 and older.”

    As Baby Boomers reach their 60’s and beyond, they will require more healthcare services. According to a May 2001 report, Who Will Care for Each of Us?: America’s Coming Health Care Crisis, released by the Nursing Institute at the University of Illinois College of Nursing, the ratio of potential caregivers to the people most likely to need care, the elderly population, will decrease by 40% between 2010 and 2030.

  • Insufficient staffing is raising the stress level of nurses, impacting job satisfaction, and driving many nurses to leave the profession.

    Nurses report that insufficient staffing reduces the time they can spend with their patients, the quality of their work life, and the quality of patient care. According to a study in the October 2002 Journal of the American Medical Association, nurses reported greater job dissatisfaction and emotional exhaustion when they were responsible for more patients than they can safely care for.

  • High nurse turnover and vacancy rates are affecting access to health care.

    In September 2007, the American Journal of Nursing reported that Dr. Christine T. Kovner and colleagues found that 13% of newly licensed RNs had changed principal jobs after one year, and 37% reported that they felt ready to change jobs.

    In March 2005, the Bernard Hodes Group released the results of a national poll of 138 health care recruiters and found that the average RN turnover rate was 13.9%, the vacancy rate was 16.1%, and the average RN cost per hire was $2,821.

—Karen Centowski

Previous article


Next article