If you’re in the nursing field or are considering going into it, you’ve heard about the current nursing shortage. And anyone who has ever had treatment knows that healthcare facilities which run like well-oiled machines are fueled by a competent nursing staff, as they are the lifeblood of these institutions. Herein lies the obvious problem – nurses are not something we can live without. On the other hand, nurses can appreciate the fact that this shortage is at least driving competition, and this affects everything from pay and perks to location preferences and job security. In other words, it’s not all bad, but healthcare facilities do need to plan for what the future holds in order to survive. We’ve taken a look at the issue and projections on this nursing shortage, and we’ve shared our findings below. 

Why is There an RN Shortage? 

Like any issue in life, there are a number of factors driving this shortage. Some of them are:

  • Nursing school enrollment is not growing quickly enough to meet the projected demand for RN services
  • Conversely, a shortage of nursing school faculty is forcing restrictions on nursing program enrollments and not all qualified applicants are getting accepted
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration has projected that more than one million registered nurses will hit retirement age within the next 1-15 years
  • The lack of sufficient staffing is causing nursing stress and burnout due to ever-expanding job roles, which has driven many nurses to leave the profession altogether (1 in 5 leave each year)

As you can tell, the problems are cyclical in nature, and it’s often difficult to tell the chicken from the egg. Is the current nursing shortage causing nurses to quit which is further fueling the shortage? It’s a complicated question, but one that demands an answer.

Nursing Forecast

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has noted that the need for registered nurses is expected to grow by 15 percent through 2026. The need for LVNs is expected to grow by 12 percent and nursing assistants by 11 percent. These numbers are particularly staggering because this is compared to the mere 7 percent growth projected to occur across all occupations. 

Experts say that the increasing rates of chronic health issues and autoimmune diseases as well as an aging baby boomer population are what’s behind this demand for RNs. This increase in demand is obviously the main reason for this shortage. In fact, the national nursing shortage could reach 500,000 by 2025.  

While most states are projected to be able to keep up with this demand, others will fall woefully short. Alaska is projected to have the largest percentage of job vacancies while California is actually anticipated to be short the most registered nurses. 

Nursing Shortage Broken Down by Specialty

Emergency Nurses

Because the law mandates hospitals to provide care for all patients who enter an emergency department regardless of whether they are medically insured, the field of emergency nursing is a bit of an anomaly. When hospitals provide this care to uninsured patients, they expect to be reimbursed through government funding. The lack of this funding affects the hospital’s ability to pay its current staff members as well as prevents it from hiring more employees. To compound this, ER nursing is one of – if not THE – most stressful areas of nursing, as there are constant life-and-death challenges and these nurses need to know a vast array of medical topics. So if hospitals are not able to adequately staff, ER nurses become overwhelmed, burned out, and quit. Once again, it’s the chicken and the egg scenario but the end result is the same – a lack of much-needed ER nurses.  

Critical Care Nurses

An aging workforce and perpetual financial cutbacks have become the perfect storm in reducing the supply of critical care nurses. In turn, this sends the number of ICU beds available to patients plummeting and forces hospitals to really think outside the box when filling critical care openings. In fact, some hospitals have been forced to fly nurses from state to state to fill this void only to fly them home again after their 12-hour shifts! 

Surgical Nurses

Surgical nursing has undergone a huge shift in recent years because surgery, itself, has changed. The healthcare movement has moved away inpatient care in hospitals and more towards “day surgery”. These are diagnostic procedures and surgeries performed in ambulatory surgery facilities. Despite this shift in the way surgeries are carried out, the demand will always be there for surgical nurses which, once again, affects the shortage. 

The nursing shortage is serious although, as we mentioned earlier, it’s not necessarily all negative for nurses themselves. It grants them greater job security and more.

Eisenhower Health has been at the forefront of the industry for 50 years now. If you’re a nurse who’s looking for a change of pace, check out our many openings in the charming expanse of Coachella Valley. 

Originally posted on 18/7/2019

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