Solving the Nursing Shortage
The demand for registered nurses is expected to grow 23 percent by 2016, with 587,000 new jobs. Yet, even though nursing is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States, the supply of registered nurses available will simply not be enough to fill these positions, since it is actually decreasing.
There are many reasons why the number of registered nurses is decreasing. One of them is the restrictions on work visas for foreign nurses, who could fill some of these positions. Another is the average age of registered nurses: 42.5 years. This means that many of these nurses will be retiring in the near future, leaving positions that need to be filled. There also just aren’t enough qualified applicants being accepted into nursing school because of the limited amount of nursing instructors.
Meanwhile, the demand continues to increase for a variety of reasons. We have an aging, baby-boomer population, which needs additional care, and hence more registered nurses are needed to provide this care. Our population continues to grow, which also means more nurses are required to provide healthcare services. Obamacare, as well, contributes to this increase. Since more people will be insured and therefore seeking healthcare, more nursing professionals will be needed.
Due to the combination of higher demand for and decreasing supply of nurses, by the year 2020, there will be an estimated shortfall of more than a 1,000,000 nurses. However, there are solutions we can seek to solve this nursing shortfall.
Job security can be increased, attracting more people to the field of nursing. Education is another area that can help lessen the shortfall. Nursing schools need to redesign their programs and the degrees they offer in order to attract more qualified applicants to the nursing field. Wages can also increase, since higher wages definitely attract more people to a career.
The way nurses can seek work and are hired can also affect the shortage of available nurses. To fill many of the open positions available, we can depend on different programs. Allowing nurses to be matched to open shifts through a web-based system, or reverse bidding process, is one way this shortage can be addressed. The use of free-agent nurses who bid on unfulfilled shifts based on hourly rates or a shift bonus also helps with the shortage, as well as the use of a travel nursing company, which provides nurses who travel around the nation to help hospitals fill positions as the shortage grows.
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