Nursing labor pool needs a shot in the arm

iStockphoto | Thinkstock

Nursing shortages are nothing new–they’ve been a recurring problem since the mid-1900s.

There was a brief period of balance in the 1980s, but by 2000 the writing was on the wall:

We’re running out of qualified nurses to meet patient demand. 

What’s behind this alarming trend? Underlying causes include:

  • Changes in the Medicare reimbursement system that increased nurses’ workloads
  • New patient care technology that requires a higher skill level and more education to use
  • A perception that nurses are undervalued and overworked, making it an unattractive career path
  • Nursing schools that have not kept up with the needs and interests of today’s students
  • Nurses choosing to pursue other lines of work or retiring as they age out of the workforce
  • Overall population growth (and a big upswing in the percentage of the patient population over age 65)

In 2004, the projected shortage by 2012 was anticipated to be 800,000. Now, as seen in the infographic below, that expected gap has jumped to more than 1 million.

Next: What’s the Solution? →

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