America’s Nursing Shortage: It’s Real, and It’s Back
18-month snapshot from 50 hospitals in 10 states spotlights issue
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 2015) – The on-again/off-again nursing shortage in America definitely is on again, according to an 18-month study of job vacancy and hiring data at 50 hospitals across the U.S.
“Everyone who works in the field feels a shortage exists already. That feeling is absolutely correct, and factors today say the situation is going to get worse, much worse,” said Mark Dixon, president and CEO of USr Healthcare, a nationwide healthcare talent acquisition company headquartered in Nashville, Tenn.
USr’s study covered 50 small, medium and large for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals in urban and rural markets across 10 states, reaching from East Coast to West Coast.
The 50 hospitals reported a significant hiring gap. Despite filling more than a third of available openings each month, they still experienced a 73 percent growth in all open clinical positions, the majority for nurses. The hospitals couldn’t hire nurses fast enough to stay ahead of the need.
“The healthcare industry has been discussing the prospect of a nursing shortage for almost 20 years. The problem is that the discussion often is framed by data that is several years old. Our study took a snapshot of today’s reality,” Dixon said.
The nation’s 2.8 million nurses make up the single largest health profession in the U.S., according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Dixon and USr see a rapidly growing nursing shortage problem with four major issues:
- Fully one-third of today’s nurses will reach retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years.
- The entire baby boomer generation is creating more demand, the so-called “Silver Tsunami.”
- The Affordable Care Act has created a significant new pool of patients.
- The expected retirement of as many as 75 percent of current nursing educators could reduce the output of new registered nurses to the lowest level in 20 years.
“The recent economic recession had a predictable, but odd, effect. It encouraged many nurses to stay on the job longer than they intended, and it encouraged others to rejoin the workforce. That provided relief temporarily, but it masked the underlying problem,” Dixon said.
“Hospitals are playing musical chairs in reverse. They must be progressive and aggressive to find, attract and hire nurses,” Dixon concluded.
The USr Healthcare study is online at USrHealthcare.com/Americas-nursing-shortage.