Nursing Shortage

The Registered Nurse Shortage is Severe

The nursing shortage epidemic in the U.S. is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for heath care grows. The latest projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, predict that more than one million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2016. Unfortunately even with current enrollment steadily increasing on an annual basis U.S. nursing schools turned away 40,285 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2006 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints. To tackle this ongoing problem national initiatives are underway from nursing schools to hospitals all working in tandem in developing new strategies to meet the need for qualified nurses.

With this Hub, we'll cover the latest on the Nursing Shortage and the impact it has on the quality of healthcare across the United States.

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1 Million Nurses Needed by 2020

Nursing Shortage Across America

The shortage of nurses throughout the country is almost in crisis mode. As more and more baby boomers retire the need for quality healthcare increases.


Jamie Hirshey, retention and turnover coordinator for Freeman Health System said that at any given time, the hospital has 25 to 30 open nursing positions. "We have more than 800 on our nursing staff," Hirshey said. "We're very fortunate to have so many wonderful nursing programs in our area, but there are still never enough nurses. As this area continues to grow and we're seeing the hospitals grow, we're also seeing secondary agencies coming up, "Hirshey said. "Long-term care facilities and in-home health care agencies keep coming up and are just another competitor for us (for nursing staff). It just means more job stability for nurses in this area."


Currently ranked 49th in the country, Nevada's hospital staffing situation is getting worse, not better, much as it is nationwide, where a shortage of 750,000 nurses is expected by 2010. The demand for nurses is almost as high as the demand from students wishing to become nurses. At the Community College of Southern Nevada alone, approximately 450 students apply for 152 spots in the registered-nursing program each semester.


Recent results from the Oklahoma Job Vacancy survey were shocking -- Nursing is the highest-paying occupation with the most vacancies in the state, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. There were more than 2,200 vacancies for registered nurses.


According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mississippi health care providers will experience a 22 percent vacancy rate in nursing positions by the year 2020, requiring more than 18,000 nurses to provide adequate patient care. The Mississippi nursing shortage was made even worse after Hurricane Katrina battered the south leaving a huge dent in the area's healthcare system.

Cause and Solution

What is the cause of the nursing shortage?
Not enough applicants many perceive. But not everywhere! In many places it is the educational faculty that is at fault. To be a nurse, you must be trained. To train, there must be a nurse educator. Without financial support, and a gap between salaries for practicing nurses in hospitals and nurses who teach in universities, many avert from teaching.

Possible Solution: One option is to use the MD degree program as a guide; become affiliated with a hospital and have practicing nurses teach part time. A second option is to create increased governmental programs as occurring in Mississippi to stipend present and future teachers with added financial support to close the gap between salaries of practicing and teaching nurses. Lastly, accept students into the nursing program who specifically have a desire to teach rather than become practicing nurses.

Nursing SHortage Impact on the quality of care

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