There’s something missing from a recent spate of news headlines proclaiming a looming shortage of nurses: discussion of licensed vocational/practical nurses.

Since early 2016 when The Atlantic magazine sounded the alarm that the U.S. was fast approaching a crisis of too few nurses, a host of national and local news outlets have taken up the issue like an urgent call to arms. The stories tend to share a common theme, with most exploring the reasons behind a burgeoning shortage of registered nurses and detailing efforts to expand the RN workforce. Typically absent from the reporting — and, as a consequence, public discussion — is mention of a pressing shortage of LVNs.

Shortages of nurses — RNs and LVNs alike — have waxed and waned for decades in the U.S., but a current deficit of nursing expertise stems from a unique confluence of 21 st century factors. At the same time the nation’s sizeable Baby Boom population ages, spurring a rise in chronic disease requiring nursing care, nurses themselves are retiring; and schools of nursing, short on faculty and access to clinical facilities in which to train fledgling nurses, have lacked the capacity to produce sufficient numbers of replacements. Dire predictions of a 1 million-plus shortfall of RNs by 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, have been somewhat tempered by research predicting RN shortages likely will be restricted to certain states (California included) by 2030. Nevertheless, the federal government expects a 21% increase in demand for RNs nationwide by 2025.

But studies also predict an approaching shortage of LVNs. According to federal estimates, national demand for LVNs is expected to begin to outstrip supply beginning in 2022. Demand for LVNs, generated by the long-term care and rehabilitation needs of the aging U.S. population, is projected to grow at a rate significantly greater than RNs — a whopping 44% by 2030 in fact.

 

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Need for LVNs in California Rising

So why, given the need for LVNs, all the focus on RNs? The reasons lie, at least in part, on simple math and healthcare industry trends. RNs outnumber LVNs by more than three to one (2.8 million RNs vs. 809,000 LVNs/LPNs actively employed in full-time equivalent positions in 2014). And although the nursing profession has not defined its entry level into practice beyond nurse licensure, a decade-long effort to advance the education and practice of nurses has prompted a preference among acute care and other healthcare organizations to employ RNs with bachelor of nursing degrees. The latest headline-grabber in this push is New York’s so-called BSN-in-10 law. Enacted in late 2017, the law requires new RNs in the state to complete a bachelor’s degree within 10 years of licensure.

It remains to be seen whether California or other states will follow New York’s lead and what the overall impact of such legislation will be not only on RN recruitment and retention, but also on the future of LVNs who intend to further their own education to become RNs. In the meantime, LVNs will be vitally needed to assist RNs in patient care support roles, particularly in California, where at least one chronic disease affects an estimated 39% of residents.

Why Choose Eisenhower Health?

News reporting may have yet to zero in on the importance of and rising demand for LVNs, but healthcare organizations, including Eisenhower Health, understand well the extent of the need. As LVN hiring continues its upward track, vocationally trained nurses will enjoy their ability to choose among the best employers.

At Eisenhower Health, we value LVNs as integral members of our patient care teams. Beyond our numerous awards for quality, inclusive patient care from prestigious organizations (see them here!), we are known as a great place to start and advance nursing careers. Based on a survey of 1,800 nurses in 314 hospitals across California, Nurse.org named Eisenhower Health the No. 1 hospital in the state for nursing careers in 2017.

We know that our strong culture of respect for patients and practitioners alike helps us earn these coveted honors. From our primary care practices to our acute care facility, we take great pride in providing not only extraordinary care to our patients, but also an exceptional work environment for our employees. Here, LVNs enjoy competitive compensation and benefits in an atmosphere of admiration, integrity, honesty, and professionalism that recognizes their contributions to superior patient care — not to mention the beautiful surroundings of our location in the Coachella Valley!

If you’re an LVN interested in a long and rewarding career with a leader in healthcare in California, consider Eisenhower Health. See our current LVN openings on our Patient Care Support Careers page.

Originally posted on 1/6/2018

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