Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about America’s nursing shortage. This national shortage of nurses has resulted from a number of factors, including limited availability in medical schools, a shortage of qualified nursing school instructors, and fierce job competition within the nursing industry. With all of the healthcare and education reform that has taken place during recent years, shouldn’t this problem be resolved by now? Unfortunately, this is not the case. America’s demand for nurses is becoming more critical than ever.
Why Is the Need for More Nurses So Critical?
Due to many important factors, the demand for nurses is rising at a staggering rate.
- The employment growth rate for RNs is rising rapidly: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in Job Outlook for Registered Nurses that employment for registered nurses is expected to grow 16% by the year 2024, a growth rate much higher than most occupations.
- Americans are living longer lives: The number of people living in America who are over age 65 is higher than ever. More registered nurses will be needed to meet the expected medical demands of the aging population.
- More Americans have access to healthcare: National healthcare reform is opening the doors to grant more Americans access to medical insurance coverage. Since more patients are becoming able to receive primary care services, a higher number of nurses will need to be available.
- Many current nurses are reaching retirement age: The American Nurses Association reported in 2015 that the average age of registered nurses is 44.6 years old. This age average is growing every decade. More nurses nearing retirement will soon create a critical need to fill important nursing positions.
- More nurses are needed outside of hospitals: Hospitals are facing high costs for keeping patients for extended periods. More patients are being discharged from hospitals as soon as possible, and many of them require continued medical care. An ever-increasing number of nurses are needed for home healthcare, long-term care, and outpatient care centers.
How Long Will This Nursing Shortage Last?
In 2013, the U.S. Board of Labor Statistics predicted that between 2012 and 2022, over 574,000 nursing jobs will need to be filled. The BLS also estimated that over half a million nurses will retire by 2022. According to the BLS, 1.13 million new nurses will be needed to keep up with the employment growth expected to hit the nursing industry over the next five years. If these statistics prove to be accurate, the nursing shortage will only worsen as time goes on.
What Can Be Done to Add More Registered Nurses to the Workforce?
To prevent the nursing shortage from becoming a critical problem in the near future, a number of actions can be taken. A large factor contributing to the nursing shortage is the fact that there aren’t enough nursing instructors. Nursing schools are responsible for training and producing the nurses needed to meet healthcare demands. Increasing the number of nursing instructors through increasing teachers’ salaries and fighting for more federal education funding could greatly improve the shortage crisis.
The second major factor that is worsening the nursing shortage is the limited hiring qualifications for hospitals. Hospitals are hiring fewer and fewer nurses fresh out of medical school. As experienced nurses retire from their positions, hospitals will often only hire experienced nurses as replacements. Many hospitals only offer jobs for nurses with advanced medical degrees. By offering more employment opportunities to newly graduated nurses with a wider range of degrees, hospitals can do their part to help increase the number of experienced nurses in the workforce.
If healthcare employers take the necessary actions today to address the growing nursing shortage, the future of the American medical industry will be bright. For more information on the nursing shortage crisis, visit our article: “Nursing Shortage Expected Through 2030.”