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The Looming Nursing Shortage in the US

Three surgical nurses wearing blue face masks and gowns.

The Demand for Nursing – What Can We Do About It.

With nearly 4 million registered nurses (RNs) practicing across the United States, nursing is the nation’s largest health care profession. Even though this may sound like a lot, there is a severe nursing shortage looming in this country.

It doesn’t appear that pay is the issue. The median income for RNs is currently $80,000. With this, along with opportunities for overtime and flexible hours, we were scratching our heads trying to figure out why there’s such a shortage.

After doing some research, here is what we found: 

  • Retiring nurses are on the rise. Aging of the current workforce is starting to be a factor. An estimated 425,000 (22%) are at least 55 years old.
  • More nursing education is needed to prepare for a more complex health care environment than we had years ago. Educational opportunities and nursing programs are scarce leaving many out in the cold because there isn’t enough room for applicants. 
  • There are a wide variety of fields available to RNs – biomedical companies, pharmaceutical companies, and hospital administration to name a few. This means less bedside nurses taking care of patients, leaving the health care system in a lurch.
  • Bedside nurses get burned out quickly and some believe they have the hardest job, being pulled in so many directions. It takes a ton of coordination, usually having five patients and five different physicians to deal with. Family members call and ask questions, meds need to be passed by a certain time, doctors want reports from the night before – you get the idea. Juggling this particular nursing job responsibilities can make you crazy.
  • An amazing opportunity sits in front of an american nurse. If they leave the profession to go back to school for two years, they can double their salary as a nurse practitioner. Why wouldn’t they choose this route?

So how do we manage this looming shortage? 

  • Colleges of nursing are starting to admit students to their bachelor’s degree program three times a year with no summers off. This keeps a steady influx in the nurse workforce.
  • Some institutions are implementing flexible scheduling – 6-hour shifts rather than 12, along with job share situations.
  • Programs have popped up all over the country where the high school student interested in a nursing career goes to school in the morning and nursing school in the afternoon. By the time they graduate from high school, they can sit for their LPN (licensed practical nurse) boards and make $18 to $20 an hour. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the health services nursing shortage in this country, but experts agree on one thing – we would be able to keep the number of  nurses we currently have at the bedside, and attract more towards nurse employment by devising more creative retention strategies.If nursing is your field of choice, please contact Career Start’s Job Board. We will place you in a position immediately – possibly today!

Posted on March 31, 2021. Categorized as .

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