Healthcare News & Insights

Is the nursing shortage almost over?

There may be light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the nursing shortage.

More young people are entering the profession thanks to a efforts to make nursing a more appealing career option. According to a new study published in Health Affairs, there’s been an 62% increase in the amount of people aged 23-26 who started careers in the field between 2002-2009.

Now, the number of registered nurses is expected to keep pace with population growth through 2030. Previously, the number of nurses was expected to decline over the next 20 years.

The problem isn’t totally resolved though. Several independent reports suggest that key specialties, most notably geriatrics, may not have adequate numbers of well-trained nurses to meet patient needs.

To keep the workforce growing, experts recommended finding ways to make nursing a more mobile career. Right now, more than 52% of nurses work within 40 miles of where they went to high school. In the long-term, that could create regional pockets where there aren’t enough nurses to fill the required positions. To meet long-term needs of those areas, the researchers recommended:

  • Expanding the number of educational programs in under-served areas, such as off-campus “registered nurse to bachelor’s degree in nursing” programs or increased use of distance learning
  • Targeting educational support such as scholarships and loan forgiveness programs to local students, to encourage them to not only be nurses but also to serve their local area
  • Urging state and university leaders to review admission policies for nursing programs and the financial aid they offer, and
  • Funding programs and policies such as the National Health Services Corps that offer financial incentives to attract nurses to under-served areas.

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