Crisis: A National Nursing Shortage
The U.S. is facing a critical shortage of registered nurses that is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows. Compounding the problem is the fact that nursing colleges and universities across the country are struggling to expand enrollment to meet the rising demand for nursing care. In addition, an aging nurse workforce and evolving healthcare reform will make the phenomenon more dire.
Recent Studies Predict a Nursing Shortage
A recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has indicated that more than 500,000 new nursing positions will need to be created by 2022 to address the current shortfall, and the Bureau of Health Professions estimates that 90 percent more nurses will need to be graduated from nursing programs to meet that demand.
Also, according to Vanderbilt University, four out of every 10 nurses in the U.S. are over the age of 50 and will retire in the next ten years, exacerbating the shortage.
And, according to the PEW Charitable Trust and the PEW Center on the States, by 2020, the supply of nurses in the U.S. will fall short of demand by more than 1 million.
Nurses Are Always Needed
In the midst of the U.S. economic recession in 2009, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the health care sector continued to grow, despite significant job losses in nearly all major industries. Hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other ambulatory care settings added 21,000 new jobs in June 2009, a month when U.S. employers slashed 467,000 jobs.
The U.S. health care sector has long been thought of as recession-resistant. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in September 2009, about a year into the worst economy in recent U.S. history, the health care sector actually added more than half a million jobs. Registered nurses are the largest segment of the health care workforce, and, in a down economy, nursing professionals are more likely than most to weather the storm.
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