Opportunity Lives

What is Causing the United States Nursing Shortage?


Over the past year, the COVID19 pandemic has undoubtedly put a lot of strain and stress on healthcare systems around the world. New reports have surfaced, showing that there are currently not enough nurses in the US to meet health development goals – even without a global pandemic. In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that there was a worldwide shortage of almost six million nurses. And in the US, the nurse shortage has been at its worst over the past few years, with job openings for nurses estimated to reach over a million by 2030. There are various reasons that are contributing to the current shortage of nurses in the country, despite the fact that registered nursing is one of the best career choices for professional growth. The main contributors to the nursing shortage include:

Nurses Retiring:

The average age of the nursing workforce is fifty years old, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Although this isn’t retirement age, more and more nurses in the US are choosing to retire at an earlier age due to several factors such as emerging technologies in healthcare and the increasing mental and physical demands required of practicing nurses. It’s estimated that around one million nurses are expected to retire from the workforce between now and 2030. 

Aging Population:

People are living longer due to the advancement of medical science today. While this is always good news, it has been a massive contributor to the shortage of registered nurses in the US. The country has the largest number of Americans who are over the age of sixty-five, and as the population ages, the number of health conditions, chronic illnesses, and other health needs are also growing. As a result, an increase in nursing staff is needed to ensure that a high standard of care is provided. Accelerated BSN online programs from Baylor University are an ideal choice for aspiring nurses who want to help close this gap and reduce the shortage of nurses. 

Nursing Education:

There is a direct link between nursing education and the nursing shortage, according to the AACN. Nursing schools in the US are currently turning down tens of thousands of qualified applicants on a yearly basis due to the fact that they have inadequate clinical sites, academic space, budget, and faculty. Currently, there are over one thousand open nurse educator positions, according to Higher Ed Jobs. 

Overwork and Burnout:

Finally, the shortage of nursing itself is also becoming a contributor on its own. Since the number of nurses is currently not enough to meet the growing and complex healthcare needs of citizens, nurses are becoming more and more burned out, emotionally and physically exhausted, and overworked as they try to take on the work of more than one person. As a result, more nurses have been choosing to leave the profession, creating a cycle that desperately needs to be broken. 

Is the Nursing Shortage Worldwide?

While the US might be suffering a lot from the shortage of nurses, it is not just an issue here. The nursing shortage is a problem all around the world, with nurses making up around half of the worldwide healthcare workforce. According to the WHO, there is likely to be a global shortage of seven million nurses within the next ten years. 

When Did the Nursing Shortage Start?

The WHO states that the nursing profession has often dealt with periodic shortages. However, they have typically always resolved on their own until this last decade. This is mainly because many nurses are now nearing retirement age or deciding to retire early, coupled with the growing number of older adults suffering from chronic conditions. Along with the fact that it’s difficult to train nurses fast enough, all the issues are contributing together to increase the nursing shortage more and more. As a result, it is essential for healthcare organizations and academic nursing training programs to work together to address the issue. 

Where is the Nursing Shortage Hitting Hardest?

Not every state in the US is experiencing a nursing shortage. Nurses tend to prefer urban areas for work, which has led to a situation where rural areas are experiencing more significant shortages. In addition, the past year and the COVID19 pandemic has shone light on the shortage of specialized nurses in all areas of the US, with nurses that possess specialized skills in high demand as the healthcare system became overwhelmed with patients’ acute needs. Currently, studies have found that California, Nevada, and Georgia are the states with the lowest number of nurses, and California, New York, and Texas are the states reported to have the highest number of nursing vacancies. 

What Types of Nurses are Needed Most?

A search of job sites will bring up that there are vacancies for nurses in every department, unit, and specialty across the country. There is a shortage of practicing nurses in every field across the US, along with a shortage of academic nurses. A lack of nursing faculty is currently one of the main problems that is leading to nursing programs being unable to expand enrolment. This is the case with both undergraduate and postgraduate nursing programs. 

Why Join the Nursing Profession?

Nurses make up the biggest sector of all healthcare professions and are instrumental in shaping the delivery of healthcare both now and in the future. As the current shortage of nurses begins to grow, the demand for skilled, competent nurses is only going to rise even further. Nurses are in a unique position to make a difference in healthcare, and the high demand due to this shortage is leading to more job security, generous pay checks, and career opportunities than ever before. As a result, there has never been a better time to become a nurse, both in terms of your own career benefits and the ability to work in a role that allows you to truly make a difference to the healthcare system when it is needed the most. 

The shortage of nursing in the US means that it’s one of the best times to get into a nursing career.

Share This