New Report With Forecast Model: California Needs 12,000 More Nurses by 2014


SACRAMENTO - A new report by California's key Legislative Analyst, Elizabeth G. Hill, projects that within 7 years the State will be short by 12,000 registered nurses.  According to the Report, the State currently has 230,000 registered nurses working full or part time.  The average salaries for registered nurses have jumped from $52,000 in 2000, to $69,000 in 2006, an increase of 32 percent over the six-year period.  There are currently 110 public and private colleges, of which 26 have added since 2000-2001, about a 25% increase.

Statewide, the number of applicants to nursing schools in California far exceeds the number of slots available.  According to a 2007 BRN study, California nursing programs received a total of 28,410 eligible applications for just 11,000 first-year slots in the 2005-2006 school year.

The California Community Colleges (CCC) programs have experienced serious problems, as only
50% of the roughly 6,000 enrolled complete their degree on time, if at all.  About 25% graduate behind schedule and the other 25% never graduate at all.  The attrition rate is much higher at the CCC level than that of UC or CSU (about 7% attrition).

As noted above, the State has 230,000 full and part time registered nurses.  That translates into about 200,000 full time employees (FTEs). 

The State's demand for registered nurses is expected to increase in future years.  This is primarily because California's population is projected to increase and get older.  Two California Departments project that approximately 240,000 FTE registered nurses will be needed by 2014.
A third study, by UCSF, conducted for BRN in 2005, projects a demand of between 241,000 and  257,000.  If these forecasts are accurate the State will need more than 40,000 FTE registered nurses over the next decade to meet the projected demand.

These forecasts, of course rely on certain assumptions, which may or may not prove to be correct. One assumption relates to the supply of foreign nurses, and another to the delivery of healthcare to patients over the next several years. 

Additionally, projecting the supply of registered nurses is difficult as it relates to the projected "inflow" of new grads, new nurses to the State from other Countries, and new arrivals to the State from other States. It also relates to the "outflow" to other States and the retirement of the State's registered nurses.

Using data from BRN to estimate these inflows and outflows, UCSF projected an increase in registered nurses of 11,000 (from 200,000 to 211,000 FTEs) by 2014.  The Report states that the forecast now understates the supply for two reasons.  First, the UCSF study is based on an "inflow" assumption that 6,200 new registered nurses would graduate annually.  However, as noted above, the capacity has increased to 7,500 annually, due to new nursing schools and new nursing programs.  Second, the UCSF study doesn't anticipate an even greater growth factor or "inflow" due to increased future capacity and the "inflow" of even more new graduates annually.  California should reasonably expect to see a significant increase in year-to-year new graduates (approximately 10%) for the next three years as a result of recent legislative funding initiatives. 

After that, even without any new legislative policy actions, it would be reasonable to assume a 2% year-to-year growth in enrollment at institutions.  Adding this new "inflow" of new graduates, the adjusted model forecasts that the supply of registered nurses in California will total about 228,000 FTEs by 2014 (not the 211,000 FTEs forecast in the UCSF model). 

Thus, to accommodate the anticipated demand for 240,000 FTEs by 2014, the State will need to increase the supply of FTE nurses by 12,000 based upon the new nursing supply projections (from 228,000 to 240,000).


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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