What nursing shortage? A look at now and into the future

Stories - Check Mark Pencil (yellow)Nurses and future nurses across the nation are starting to question whether or not they want to dive into the treacherous nursing waters that might be in store for the near future.

A post earlier this week on our Mighty Nurse Facebook page questioned if the nursing shortage will ever end. We got bombarded with comments stating that there is not a shortage to any extent.

Comment after comment came pouring in with statements such as:

“None here either. I’d like to know where this nursing shortage is so I can move there when I graduate.”


“Nursing shortage? I can’t find a job.”


“It’s awful trying to find a job! Too many nurses!”

The comments made it clear that not only was it hard for newly licensed nurses to find a position but also for experienced veterans.

So what does the health care industry have in store for nursing?

Annie Baxter of the Minnesota Public Radio takes a gut wrenching look at the nursing market. She wrote:

By the end of last year, for every 100 RNs with jobs, there were only about two openings. That’s no better than the average job vacancy rate for Minnesota’s overall labor market.

At this point, the market for nurses is basically in equilibrium. It definitely seems like supply has caught up with demand.

Caught up with demand? Is this the new face of the nursing market?

People all across America are affected by this economy and the job struggle. Many are returning to school and some are spending fortunes in order to pursue nursing.

This raises the controversial question, “Is nursing still a fool-proof career path?”

The American Association of Colleges and Nursing posted an article on their website about the potential for a future nursing shortage based on several factors.

Among those factors is the need for healthcare amongst newly retired baby boomers. They report that, in order to provide adequate care for an aging population, the number of employed nurses will grow from 2.74 million in 2010 to 3.45 million in 2020.

Of course, among those baby boomers is a large number of nurses themselves. In fact, a study by the New England Journal of Medicine states the the largest group of nurses are in their 50s and that more nurses will retire in the next 5 years than can be replaced by the available workforce.

Couple the impending wave of retirements with a greater demand for care, and it’s hard to imagine there not being a shortage within the decade. The future of nursing appears to be on a balance beam and might hold on tight or fall off at any moment.

While this information is important at the macro level, regardless of what you think about a “nursing shortage” and its validity, in the end, choose to become a nurse not because it’s “secure” or “recession proof”, but because you have a passion for helping others and want to become a “Mighty” nurse.

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