We hear the term ‘nursing shortage’ quite frequently and how it is currently plaguing the healthcare sector. However, is there really a nurse shortage? Many nurses that are currently unemployed would definitely tell you no. While it is true there are many nurses unemployed, it’s also true there is a nurse shortage. How can this be??
When nurses hear the term shortage, they are inclined to think of their own city or town. However, the nurse shortage is not consistent across the U.S. While the hospitals around you may be fully staffed, it doesn’t mean the town a 100 miles away is. The shortage is also not necessarily due to lack of supply of trained nurses in a city, either. It can be measured by nurse-to-patient ratio in a facility or nurse-to-population ratio.
This is why Travel Nursing is important. Travel Nursing offers a relief to the shortage because these nurses are willing to relocate to the understaffed locations. This has been found to be a quite lucrative career, as with this great need, hospitals are willing to pay them more to fill their void.
But that doesn’t answer why there is a shortage in the first place…There are actually many contributing factors:
- Baby boomers are reaching their mid 60’s. The large population of this generation has many medical and health needs, which is putting a strain on our health system. The population aged 65 years and older will double from 2000 to 2030.
- Current aging nurse workforce. The median age of nurses is 45. Many are forced to work past their retirement age.
- Poor work conditions for current nurses. Many nurses are forced to work longer shifts with lesser pay. This leads to the possibility of nurse wellness decline which can contribute to increased patient error. Many nurses feel that can no longer keep up with the job demand, so they move to a new profession.
- A diminishing number of new student nurses. There is also a decreasing number of nursing programs offered to students.
There is unfortunately, no foreseeable end to the nursing shortage. There are future concerns for the nurse shortage as well, including the new healthcare reform which will grant healthcare to more of the population.