The Coming Nursing Shortage?

Posted by: Michael Mandel on June 28

Alwin, who has worked as an intensive care nurse for years, has a post about the coming shortage of nurses:

…we’ll hit a sort of “brick wall” in the year 2010. That’s the year that the US government forecasts that we hit the tipping point, where there will be just enough nurses to take care of all the patients in the normal course of the day. After 2010, we begin to fall down a rather slippery slope.
Because after 2010 it doesn’t matter how much we spend. There just won’t be enough nurses to take care of all the patients in the US. And it doesn’t matter if at that point we begin a “crash program” to train nurses in this country. Because newly graduated nurses, like newly graduated physicians, need supervision, time, and experience in order to become safe and competent practitioners.

I dug up the relevant government study, a report entitled “Projected Supply, Demand, and Shortages of Registered Nurses: 2000-2020.” Here’s what it said:

Based on what is known about trends in the supply of RNs and their anticipated demand, the shortage is expected to grow relatively slowly until 2010, by which time it will have reached 12 percent. At that point demand will begin to exceed supply at an accelerated rate and by 2015 the shortage, a relatively modest 6 percent in the year 2000, will have almost quadrupled to 20 percent.

This is something I need to ponder.

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Reader Comments

William Ryan

June 28, 2005 09:51 PM

This is very interesting. My step-mother is a nurse, back on the island of Kauai, and the local hospitals there are firing their nurses, not looking for more. Instead, they're being replaced with nurse's assistants. My question is if the nurses are actually providing a service that cannot be provided by an alternative source. Besides, if there is that much demand for nurses, wages should rise and more people will transfer into the industry, ideally. Is there reason to think this won't happen?

Lord

June 29, 2005 01:05 PM

Supply never meets demand because price never meets cost. This is the myth of competitive pay. When everyone pays it, there is no competition. Medical care is about as far from a free market as one can get, unless you consider all the creative accounting, cost shifting, and third party reimbursement that goes on the pinnacle of a free market. As complete a separation of provision of service from payment of costs as one can probably get, which is why healthcare costs grow without bounds.

jm

July 7, 2005 05:26 PM

I suggest you check back on the recent "Study" (projected supply....) there have been some corrections made (ex: hawaii state)

Peter St. Onge

July 23, 2005 07:59 AM

This is a very strong argument for free trade.

Our potential nurses are wasting their lives at jobs that should be done in Bangalore and Shanghai. We should allow our parasitic industries (cf textiles, sugar, autos, etc) to wind-down so American labor can be freed up to retrain as nurses, teachers and construction workers. In the process, of course, we would have cheaper cost-of-living, which effectively raises the salary of every single American.

As for the displaced workers, any worker sustained by immorally forcing me to buy their product is, in my opinion, a parasite. They should not only get no help finding new jobs, the pampered autoworkers and longshoremen should refund me all the money they've stolen from me through making my purchases more expensive over the decades.

Not only is this win-win in the long run, it's the only solution unless we'd like to import millions of nurses from Africa to the Phillippines, nevermind what such a brain-drain would do to healthcare in those countries, to add to the millions of construction workers we currently import from Mexico.

MB

October 29, 2005 10:03 AM

Oh my gosh to Peter St. Onge. While I understand and appreciate the shortage of all health care professionals, there obviously is a basic misunderstanding of economics here. To be successful, a country has to have a base of manufacturing to keep the trade deficit in check. I take offense to calling those who may not be as intellectually gifted to pursue jobs that require knowledge of some tough science courses as parasitic. We should all respect those who contribute to the economy everyday by doing the jobs that some would say is "grunt work". They are good people.

I would love to explain further basic economics but I don't think the space would allow.

Sheyla nurse

March 27, 2006 01:52 AM

I don't understand why don't they make it easier for foreign medical studunt to become nurses in the USA. Of course with all the nessesary procedures e.g. grades transfer etc.

Felisha

October 16, 2007 01:08 PM

hell NO why would we want foreign medical students working here in the USA? it would take twice as long to teach them to read and talk English, then to teach americans nursing.

Shelly Betancourt

March 22, 2008 09:19 AM

I believe the wages earned by a RN does not compensate for the level of performance that is required in our every day tasks. Wages should be increased to pay nurses for the level of intelligence required to do our duties. Nurses are the minds, eyes, and ears of the physician who is generally not directly at the bedside.

CW

March 25, 2009 03:17 AM

The shortage does not come from a lack of applicants. The shortage comes from schools. Hundreds of student will apply to schools that only allow 50-100 students into their nursing programs. Nursing is an expensive major for colleges to offer. It takes hospital compliance and instructor wages as well as lab equipment and prep resources for boards. The waiting list for nursing programs in some states is 8 years! We have the willing applicants as well as the need but not the available schooling.
On another note. Don't think the downward economy doesn't affect the medical field. The need is there, yes we know, but hospitals can't afford to hire nurses. Nurses gets stretched thin and care becomes less than adequate. This is not a new story, it's been happening for a while.

sonn

June 6, 2009 10:44 AM

I do feel that despite the prediction of a nursing shortage increasing to about 20% in the near future, that there is a dramatic shift taking place. The economy has certainly helped facilitate this. More and more people are choosing nursing as a career. A lot of people, who have been laid off are turning to nursing. Retired folk are going back into nursing. This is bringing a huge influx of nurses, especially new graduates with less experience willing to work for less. Private institutions that are interested mostly from a financial standpoint see this as a boon and may choose inexperince over performance & safety. This is mostly evidenced in the south, in small counties, where there are no more than two main hospitals. Hence, time will tell, and we could most likely see that graph make a positive curve.


marion

January 11, 2010 06:30 PM

I am a recent RN graduate and from what I have seen schools are cranking out a new class of graduates about every 6 months. The problem we have encountered as of 2009 is a halt on new grad hiring. Many hospitals are looking for experienced RN's, about a year of acute care experience.

How new grads accumulate experience is in a new grad nursing program being mentored by an experienced nurse. These programs are being cut for now due to lack of funds. Google new grad nurse and you will find many discussions from new nurses frustrated because they cannot find jobs doing work they feel very passionate about.

Also I feel that many older nurses that have been preparing to retire cannot afford to do so right now.

This is more anecdotal but in my experience since all the frenzy about the economy the census of hospital patients has been lower due to patients holding off on elective surgeries (a huge source of revenue for hospital's) for what ever reason: Afraid of taking time off work? Afraid a medical leave could put their job security in jeopardy? There have been big shifts in what insurance will and won't cover could that be affecting turn out?

UnemployedRN

February 1, 2010 12:56 PM

There's no more job for nurse. I wish I can sue the people that said there's nursing shortage. Right now I'm willing to suck any balls just to get a nursing job with my useless bachelor's degree in nursing and my useless state license and BLS certification. I am bilingual and have 2 yrs experience of RN in med/surg in another country and it still doesn't count for anything.

I think my only way out is to stand in front of a hospital, pour oil on my head and set myself on fire just to get them to look at my resume.

UnemployedRN

February 1, 2010 12:57 PM

There's no more job for nurse. I wish I can sue the people that said there's nursing shortage. Right now I'm willing to suck any balls just to get a nursing job with my useless bachelor's degree in nursing and my useless state license and BLS certification. I am bilingual and have 2 yrs experience of RN in med/surg in another country and it still doesn't count for anything.

I think my only way out is to stand in front of a hospital, pour oil on my head and set myself on fire just to get them to look at my resume.

RoMama

February 7, 2010 07:57 AM

There are thousands of new grads in my state alone that have been looking for months and years for a job. My spouse just graduated nursing school and we are even willing to relocate to find a job, but no one seems to be hiring. If there really was a shortage, hospitals would be hiring even unexperienced nurses. Shortage? Not in the Northeast. Or the Northwest. Or Colorado, or New York, or the East Coast...

RoMama

February 7, 2010 08:00 AM

There are thousands of new grads in my state alone that have been looking for months and years for a job. My spouse just graduated nursing school and we are even willing to relocate to find a job, but no one seems to be hiring. If there really was a shortage, hospitals would be hiring even unexperienced nurses. Shortage? Not in the Northeast. Or the Northwest. Or Colorado, or New York, or the East Coast...

Phyllis RN

February 17, 2010 09:26 AM

I suppose that the shortage really depends on the area. As an RN of 18 years, I have seen the nursing shortage shrink and expand. As far as hiring foreign nurses, I am not sure about it. We have many foreign born nurses from India and the Philippines. These nurses have amazing work ethics and great skills, but almost all of them are now citizens. I agree that hospitals are trying to hire candidates with experience. I have found that unless the new graduate worked in the hospital as an assistant that they are having a hard time getting hired.

John

February 28, 2010 02:42 PM

This article is obviousley outdated. I agree with the postings of 2010 that its hard to find a RN job now, eppecially for new grads.(UnemployedRN-you seem to have other issues that you should deal with other than just being out of work)
I got my RN license one year ago, and was only able to get hired part time at a nursing home where I had worked previously as a LPN. Hopefully things will start to turn around this soon. As far as hiring nurses from other countries, I believe there is a freeze on issuing work visas for RNs from places like the Philippines, and think there has been for several years.

Toni RN

March 5, 2010 05:37 AM

Felicia, as you have stated so non-eloquent, majority of Foreign Nurses specially those coming from the Philippines do speak and read as much or even better level of English THAN you do. So please let's stop working against foreign Nurses, because we sure fill the gaps for the American health care system.
By the way to teach Nursing is the easy part, but to walk in with pride, dignity and the heart to care for the ill is the essence of true NURSING.

whisperingsage

March 17, 2010 06:13 PM

Toni, I wish we could all walk with dignity. Right before the "recession' My SNF employer had a meeting and laid off people, cut a whole nurse position (leaving the rest of us with 52 long term SNF pts or 38 Medicare (rehab level with some acute needs)pts.) Boy, they cut everyone back to part time and I was only working one 8 hr shift a week.I was driving 60 miles one way for that. And they allowed no OT, even to finish paperwork. At the same time, they were pressured by The State to go "no restraint" that was the cause of all our new paperwork! Suddenly 4 falls a day! And we had to either leave our paperwork go, or fill it out on our own time. It was too much. No dignity there. And worse, I would be scheduled to work and show up to find the schedule had been changed. Back home I went with no compensation. I know, most places (or it used to be) if you showed up and no work was there for you, they owed you 4 hrs. They got out of that. It seems they are above the law.

How To Write a Nursing Resume

March 31, 2010 08:13 AM

Here is a Cardiac Nursing resume example for candidates looking to find a good Cardiac Nurse Job in a leading organization.
http://tutoringresume.com/

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.

 

About

Michael Mandel, BW's award-winning chief economist, provides his unique perspective on the hot economic issues of the day. From globalization to the future of work to the ups and downs of the financial markets, Mandel-named 2006 economic journalist of the year by the World Leadership Forum-offers cutting edge analysis and commentary.

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