all, i thought this was interesting. note, medscape is free and they have a lot of very interesting articles, free ceus, and other resources.
from medscape medical news record numbers entering nursing, but gaps remain
december 5, 2011 — researchers were surprised when they recently learned that the number of young adults entering nursing is on track to be higher than ever before. previous studies had predicted a severe shortage, as aging baby boomers leave the profession.
they report their findings in a study published
in the december issue of health affairs
. it was conducted by david i. auerbach, phd, a health economist at rand health, in boston, massachusetts, and colleagues
"what we found was quite surprising. we had thought that this was a temporary blip, but with each new year of data, the numbers were higher and higher." dr. auerbach explained.
the researchers analyzed more than 35 years of annual data from 2 census bureau surveys — the current population survey and the american community survey.
dr. auerbach and his colleagues first published data on the nursing workforce in 2000 (jama
. 2000;283:2948-2954), and they have been tracking it carefully ever since. "we noticed in our last paper what seemed to be a slight uptick among young rns [registered nurses]. a new grant...enabled us to bring a new dataset into play [the american community survey] with a much larger sample size than the current population survey that we had been using to analyze this trend in detail," he explained.
from 1983 to 1998, the proportion of the rn workforce younger than 30 years decreased from 30% to 12%. the average age of working rns during this time period increased from 37.4 years to 41.9 years.
the trend of decreasing nurses and the number of baby boomers expected to retire suggested that a severe nursing shortage was likely to occur.
instead, the number of people 23 to 26 years of age entering nursing increased by 62% from 2002 to 2009.
"the 'system' appears to be responding to correct a major imbalance. although we don't know the exact combination of forces that are acting to cause this — a combination of economic uncertainty and a decline in manufacturing jobs, modifications to nursing schools making it easier and more convenient, private initiatives such as johnson & johnson's campaign for nursing's future, and government attention such as additional funds for training — the healthcare labor market appears to be self-correcting to some extent," said dr. auerbach. he noted that this might not be the case with the physician workforce, which might have more built-in rigidities.
this study "is important because it means that there is a clear pathway and a chance for the projected shortages of nurses to be met — at least, nationally — and eliminated, a situation that seemed quite farfetched a decade ago. that has implications for healthcare delivery and patient outcomes," dr. auerbach said.
dr. auerbach and his colleagues are currently studying the effect of the recent recession on nursing employment. "we do find a strong relationship in which high national unemployment translates to a larger effective workforce. [that is,] licensed rns appear to work more hours or remain in the workforce to a greater extent in times of high unemployment," explained dr. auerbach.
"this is important because today this factor has caused a larger-than-otherwise workforce and created limited job opportunities in some parts of the country.... we are planning an investigation to understand in more detail the reasons behind this surge," he added.
in a separate but related study, published in the same issue, researchers found that 52.5% of all new nurses take jobs within 40 miles of where they attended high school. this means that geographic areas with fewer nursing education opportunities might have an inadequate supply of nurses.
christine t. kovner, phd, from the college of nursing at new york university in new york city, and her colleagues conducted a cross-sectional mailed survey of newly registered nurses in 15 states.
the authors of this study suggest several ways to help offset this relative geographic immobility. "to ensure that underserved areas have an adequate workforce of registered nurses, policy makers should expand the number of educational programs in these areas; fund programs that provide incentives to young people from these areas to attend nursing programs; consider supporting extension programs from accredited nursing schools; and review admission policies for nursing programs and the financial aid they offer," they write.
dr. kovner and her colleagues note that giving preference to in-state applicants may make sense for states that find it difficult to retain out-of-state graduates.
sufficient funding policies and programs like the national health service corps and the area health education centers, which offer financial incentives to bring rns to underserved areas, could help overcome the current low mobility of new nurses, they conclude. the authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships. health aff.