Nursing Shortfall of 200,000 To 1 Million By 2016


The year just started, but already, hospitals around the country are concerned about a projected nursing shortfall in 2016. The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics estimates the nation will need more than 200,000 additional registered nurses for each of the next two years.

Depending on which study you use, the numbers vary from a shortfall of 200,000 nurses, to as many as one million by 2016.

“We feel, we do strongly feel that there is a shortage coming,” says Holton Community Hospital CEO, Carrie Saia.

And whatever the accurate shortfall number is, it’s in large part do to baby boomers.

“Nurses who could’ve retired during the down-spill in the economic setting chose not to retire due to the economy. Now that it’s rebounding and it’s better, my guess is those retirements will increase,” says Baker School of Nursing Dean, Bernadetta Fetterolf.

So now, when nurses retire, it’s in large numbers. Numbers that can’t be filled overnight, or even within a year.

“It’s tougher to find the experienced nurses,” says Saia.

Diverse Opportunities

The 2015 outlook for nursing as a profession of choice continues to be hot as the diversity of opportunities continue to change with the demands of the health care industry.

From hospitals to clinics, nurses have more options than ever to choose the type of career they want in addition to the level they'd like to pursue.

The growth for the industry is exceptional, where a nurse can do anything from assessing patient health problems and needs, developing and implementing nursing care plans, and maintaining medical records. They also have the chance to administer nursing care to the ill, injured, convalescent or disabled patients. Duties may include advising patients on health maintenance, disease prevention and possibly providing case management.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the demand for registered nurses is expected to grow 26 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is a faster-than-average rate of growth for a job in the United States. An aging population and advancements in medical care are the main reasons behind this level of growth.

For the Houston market, jobs are plentiful, with the continued expansion of local hospitals and health care facilities creating a shortage possibility in the field.

Laura Rooney, D.N.P., A.P.R.N., director, UT Health Services, said these factors fuels the fire for the mixture of nursing positions.

"Drivers of the shortage include an aging nursing workforce, increased number of people receiving health care via the Affordable Care Act along with increased number of people living with complex, chronic disease that requires care," Rooney said. "Nursing provides a diverse array of opportunities from health care and bedside nursing to advanced practice nursing to positions for nurses in the business world."

The variety of settings nurses are needed in is evolving, and jobs are not necessarily always in a hospital, Rooney said.

"The field of nursing extends to occupational settings, with nurses providing health and wellness, education, and case management. In the outpatient clinic setting, nurses are moving into positions such as 'care management' roles where their knowledge of the health care system allows them to effectively manage and facilitate the care for more complex patients," she said.


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