The Nursing Shortage: Where Are We Now?

Nursing shortage is described as the situation where the supply of registered nurses or RNs simply cannot meet the demand. And the United States is in the middle of one which could only escalate as the baby boomers enter retirement and the need for health care intensifies.

These are the facts:

* As of December 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected that about 581,000 new RN positions will be created until the year 2018. This also means that compared to other industries, the nursing profession will experience a higher-than-average growth.

* The health care sector continues to grow despite mass layoffs in other industries. In November 2009 alone, more than 20,000 new health care jobs were created while 85,000 other jobs were lost across the US. In addition, studies also confirm that while the nursing shortage has somewhat eased with the current recession, by 2025, there will still be a shortage of about 260,000 RNs if the situation doesn’t improve.

* In the next couple of decades, many of today’s nurses will age and go into retirement, creating an even more pronounced shortage as the need for health care grows. As a matter of fact, in the survey made by the Bernard Hodes Group, 55% of nurses who participated indicated that they were bound for retirement within 2011 to 2020.

* In the year 2010, all states experienced a shortage of nurses in varying degrees. The state of Louisiana was reported to have the least need, lacking only 100 nurses, while California and Texas bore the brunt of the shortage, with vacant nursing positions numbering to 47,600 and 41,900 respectively.

The numbers don’t lie. Nursing shortage is a reality that the government, schools, and the health industry has to deal with – and fast.

But just why is there such a severe lack of nurses?

While this can be attributed to many factors, one of the primary reasons for this is the lack of qualified nursing faculty. Related to this is the lack of nursing schools available as there is a minimum nursing degree teaching staff required for a learning institution to be able to offer nursing studies.

Secondly, even if there is a marked increase in nursing student applicants, the numbers still aren’t enough to meet the projected demand for RNs both in the present and more so in the next few years.

The good news for those who are determined to pursue a career as an RN however, is that the current nursing shortage provides ample opportunities to the right individuals for a stable and rewarding career.

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