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Retirement of 34 - 40% of RNs Increases Outlook For US Nursing Jobs to 2020

Updated on October 7, 2013
Large numbers of nurses are retiring between 2013 - 2023. In 2013, a third or more of working nurses are 55 or older in some states.
Large numbers of nurses are retiring between 2013 - 2023. In 2013, a third or more of working nurses are 55 or older in some states. | Source

The Greying of American Nurses

State Nursing Centers in the American Midwest concluded that 34% to 40% or more of the number of RN-licensed nurses working in 2011 and 2012 would be retired by 2023. With a large number of nursing positions already vacant in the United States and travel nursing agencies recruiting health professionals move into some area of the country to work at higher rates of pay, a selection of perks that included mortgage payments or free rent, and many others, RN jobs look to be on the increase past 2020 and onto to 2050 or longer.

The Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio State Nursing Centers offer especially interesting data related to this trend, as shown by the text and video information below.

Effective recruitment methods and incentives need to developed to solve our nation's increasing nursing shortage, especially the growing shortage in nursing faculty. Across the nation, nurses say that faculty positions pay significaintly less than do their hospital jobs, which is negative incentive. While America experiences these types of workforce problems, international news sources report that the same workforce shortages are affecting other nations as well.

"I Am a Nurse"

Centers for Nursing Surveys

The 2012 survey by the Michigan Center for Nursing showed some interesting results:

  • About 1/4 of all Michigan RNs and LPNs left nursing from 2010 - 2012.
  • 36% of Registered Nurses and 48% of Licensed Practical Nurses that left nursing in 2012 left to retire or simply to quit the work. These percentages were much lower in 2010: 23% and 29%, respectively. "Age" was the number two factor in the decision to leave the job, after "new work opportunity."
  • In 2012, 34% percent of active RNs were 55 or older, the percentage being 41% for active LPNs.
  • No matter what their ages, 40% of all active Michigan RNs report planning to work for only 1 - 10 more years. This adds to a potential nursing shortage that is already visible.
  • Qualified nurses often must accept a cut in pay in order to accept a teaching position, e.g. a professor of nursing job; so, fewer nurses are entering that field.

Nursing Faculty Shortages In Minnesota

Ohio Center for Nursing and the American Nurses Association

  • A Health Policy Institute report in Ohio in 2009 showed that the average age of RNs was 47 and of LPNs was 48 and that 2/3 of nurses countrywide were surprised by unplanned overtime every month. Age and increasing demands on our state and country's nurses contribute to the trend of earlier retirement or quitting.
  • By 2013, the average age for both RNs and LPNs in the Buckeye State was about 55 years, with a need for increasing numbers of nurses as the Baby Boomers (born 1945 - 1964) retired in larger numbers during this decade. A more powerful nursing shortage emerged in the Midwest as well as the nation. In 2013, oer 25% of the population in Ohio was 55 or older than 55.
  • Recommendations are to schedule one hospital nurse for every four patients. The New England Journal of Medicine shows evidence in 2002 that this saves 20,000 patient deaths per year by reducing instances of pneumonia, urinary infections, cardiac arrest, shock, and other complications.

A hospital nurse in action.
A hospital nurse in action. | Source

Nurse Hero: Geoff Duncklee

SNAPSHOT: RN Licensed Nurses

During the spring of 2013, over 600,000 RN job vacancies were listed across all Internet sources in America. These included registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing instructors, the last being the very shortest in supply. All of these RN position listings have increased by more than 21% from Feburary 2012 to May of 2013. As nurses retire every month, openings increase as well.

The largest numbers of openings were posted for areas in Texas, including Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin. The next largest clusters of jobs were listed for Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Following these metro areas were Atlanta, NYC, and Seattle.

Comparing annual salaries advertised across the country during sprin 2013, RN openings are advertised at an average of $62,000/year in NYC, $63,000 in Seattle, and $72,000 in San Francisco, but $54,000 in Houston and $50,000 in Phoenix; and $60,000 in Atlanta. Salaries in coastal metro areas reflect the higher cost of living in those cities.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse Practitioners, who also hold the RN license, generally are paid higher salaries among nurses, as much as $80,000 and higher. One Nurse Practitioner listing in Los Angeles offered $300,000/year for working 12-hour overnight shifts from 8 PM - 8 AM at a rate of three days on, three days off.

The numbers of job postings for "Nurse Practitioner" have increased almost four-fold since January 2012. Also called NPs, these professionals sometimes fill the job title of Physican Assistant or Physician's Assistant.

A nurse on shipboard.
A nurse on shipboard. | Source


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Ohio once tried to do away with CNAs and Nurse's Aides in the 1980s, but they could not even do that, let alone eliminating nurses. If RNs have to take on more responsibilities and new titles, then I hope they receive more pay to go with that.

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

      Excellent piece -- I can remember the day being an RN was the top career in the medical profession for women (a few docs but not many back then). Seems PA's are all the rage now -- most of the RNs are retiring due to age (and they can) or just getting out of the medical profession due to Obamacare. They are a very special part of the medical field and I hope the RN designation doesn't just fade and disappear. Excellent work! Best/Sis