according to the american hospital association, 126,000 nurses are still needed to fill vacancies in hospitals around the united states. experts say the united states is in the midst of a nursing shortage that is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows. by the year 2020, there will be a shortage of more than 400,000 registered nurses nationwide.
adding to the problem is the fact that nursing colleges and universities across the country are struggling to expand enrollment levels to meet the rising demands for nursing care. according to a report compiled by the american association of colleges of nursing, nursing schools
turned away more than 18,000 qualified applicants in 2003 due to a shortage in faculty members, clinical sites, classroom space and money. with fewer nurses entering the profession, the average age of nurses has increased. researchers say about 40 percent of all registered nurses will be older than age 50 by the year 2010...
another study shows for every patient added to a nurse's care, the risk of death increases by 7 percent. yet another study, published in the journal of the american medical association
in 2002, shows patients who have common surgeries in hospitals with fewer nurses per patient have up to a 31 percent increased chance of dying. experts recommend that patients look for a nurse-patient ratio of one nurse for every four to six patients when deciding where to have elective surgery.