Nursing Shortage - Page 2
Causes of the Nursing Shortage
The nursing shortage is not a recent phenomenon, in fact it has been occurring since World War II. It is however, only in the last few years that the shortage has begun to have a significant impact to our healthcare systems. A steep population growth, a declining number of applicants to nursing schools, an aging workforce and a baby boom generation that will require concentrated healthcare services in the coming years are all contributing to this situation.
As new opportunities have opened up for young women and stresses have been added to the profession, many are opting to choose other careers besides nursing. Women and men are weighing their interests with a career choice that will bring them worthy compensation as well as enhancing their quality of life. Unfortunately, nursing is currently falling short on both of these. Women are now pursuing many competitive, attractive, and lucrative careers that were impossible to achieve thirty years ago. Women are entering law school, medical school, and the corporate world in droves. Research indicates that 35% fewer women would choose nursing as a career in the 1990s than they would have in the 1970s.
Declining Enrollment and Educators
New admissions into nursing schools have dropped dramatically and consistently for the past six years. Additionally, nursing colleges and universities denied 32,617 qualified applicants in 2005 due to the shortage of nursing educators. Faculty age continues to climb; higher compensation can be found elsewhere luring potential educators away from teaching. The Health Resources and Services Administration stated in a 2006 report that, "to meet the projected growth in demand for RN services, the United States must graduate 90 percent more nurses."
The lack of younger people entering nursing has raised the average age of nurses. In Maryland, the average practicing RN is 46 years old, nationally the average working RN is over 43 years old. About half of the RN workforce will reach retirement age in the next 15 years. On top of this, the average age of new RN graduates is 31. Nurses are entering the profession at an older age and offer fewer years of work.
America's demand for nursing care is expected to balloon over the next 20 years. The future demand for nurses is expected to increase dramatically when the baby boomers reach their 60s and beyond. The population aged 65 years and older will double from 2000 to 2030. Furthermore, the population aged 85 and older is the fastest growing age group in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks the occupation of nursing as having the seventh highest projected job growth in the United States. The real issue is that during this time of increased demand for health care, the overall number of nurses per capita will begin to decline. By 2020 the number of nurses will fall nearly 20 percent below requirements.