Nursing crisis looms as baby boomers age

  1. America could be facing a nursing shortage that will worsen exponentially as the population grows older.

    The problem: Baby boomers are getting older and will require more care than ever, taxing an already strained nursing system.

    America has had a nursing shortage for years, said Peter Buerhaus, workforce analyst at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tenn. But by 2025, the country will be facing a shortfall of 260,000 RNs, he said.

    "In a few short years, just under four out of 10 nurses will be over the age of 50," said Buerhaus. "They'll be retiring out in a decade. And we're not replacing these nurses even as the demand for them will be growing."

    That's because nursing schools are already maxed out.

    "Some 243,000 registered nurses entered or re-entered the profession during the recession that began in 2007, he said, including many who were forced out of retirement by financial difficulties."

    "The problem on the supply side is that our current nursing education capacity is at its limit," she said. "[Nursing schools] are pumping out about as many as they can."

    "They need to pay nursing faculty a wage that is attractive enough,"
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    Last edit by brian on Dec 23, '09
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    About Brian, ADN

    Joined: Mar '98; Posts: 15,432; Likes: 16,402 founder; from US
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  3. by   Jeffersong
    I don't understand about the "looming shortage of nurses" news these days. I have been out looking for a hospital job for almost 6 months( Since I got RN license) but haven't got one single interview. There are tons of new nurse grads pumping out in the job markets every semester.
    "just under four out of 10 nurses will be over the age of 50," doesn't make any sense since many of these seasoned nurses will hang on to nursing career of upwards of 60s and 70 years of their age.
    Conservatively speaking, give 10 more years from the age of 50 for seasoned nurses, and wait 10 more years of piling up unemployment new grad nurses and you give the number in balance.
  4. by   RNnbakes
    Thank God I had my hair did or I might have pulled it out at another "Nursing shortage crisis article". It is a CNN story and I believe CNN employs educated people but they should know by know the difference btw projected crisis and an actual crisis. If we are in a real crisis, the solution is not just more nursing faculty, like I posted in another article It is my belief that even if there were enough instructors and schools to educate and train 5million nurses, there would still be a shortage because of stress related issues like job dissatisfaction/burnout, high patient to nurse ratios and high turnover.
    Without addressing those issues, pumping out nurses in numbers is just like trying to fill a giant colander with water.
  5. by   DogWmn
    I'm a boomer LPN and will be 60 next year and I'll be working until at least 70 if not beyond - no retirement for me, my last shift will be the day before my funeral:icon_roll.

    I think one of the biggest problems is most want to live in a metro or semi-metro area. I know there are many jobs in rural America, but few who want to commit to long term rural living. I love living in a rural area but it certainly isn't for everyone.
  6. by   JeanettePNP
    The pay for nurses tends to be a lot lower in rural areas, and the cost of living is not necessarily lower if you factor in the cost of gas you need to get to get anywhere.
  7. by   greenbeanio
    "In a few short years, just under four out of 10 nurses will be over the age of 50," said Buerhaus. "They'll be retiring out in a decade."
    Ha. I'll turn 47 in my first year out of nursing school. When do I get to retire?
  8. by   hiddencatRN
    I don't have my hair did, and at this rate I'll never be able to because of the hair pulling- I think I'm two more nursing crisis stories to being bald.

    I graduate in September, and the only nursing crisis I'm facing is whether I'll be able to get a job. I am willing to look at rural areas, so hopefully that will make things better. I'll be expensive to train though I'm sure, and why train a new grad when you can run short-staffed and save money?

    I'd love it if these reporters tried to talk to new graduate nurses.
  9. by   Jarnaes
    The last couple of paragraphs in the article gives a popular solution to the problem: let's hire more foreign nurses (probably at a lower hourly rate) since we do not have enough US nurses for the job... The lobbyists are getting paid good money to pump this info into the ears of your representatives.
    It's a very scary concept, but it may become the trend, unless we all band together, speak up and protect our profession.

    Barry Pactor, international director of global health care for consulting company HCL International, agrees that more nurses should be trained within the U.S. system. But as a short term solution for this "huge shortage," he said the U.S. government should loosen immigration restrictions on foreign health care workers.

    "I don't see this as foreign nurses taking American jobs, because these are vacancies that already exist and cannot be [filled] by nurses currently in training," he said. "We'd be filling in the gaps until the training can catch up with the demand."
  10. by   Emergency RN
    i don't know if any of the younger nurses even remember ronald reagan and what he did to the the air traffic controllers; but nurses should wake up and smell the coffee. nurses need to realize that, in the case of "national crisis," all it would take is the stroke of a legislative pen or simply a presidential order to change the entire employment landscape for an industry of workers.

    most american rn's (and i believe this board is primarily a us nursing centric forum) don't realize or appreciate that in some third world countries, registered nurses are a luxury. i recall a classmate from brazil (this was years ago, i don't know if it is still the case, but the idea remains germane) telling me once that in most hospitals there, only the director of nursing was an actual rn. the remainder of the entirety of the nursing department were either lpn's or aides. likewise, hong kong (under the british) only decided to have rn's educated with baccalaureates within this past decade.

    hospitals right now remain reluctant to hire younger inexperienced nurses because they've already streamlined and job cut themselves to the point that they no longer have the necessary resources to train or orient new rns. the older rns are working twice and hard; would it be right to have them work four times, or even ten times as hard? further, older rn's are retiring in ever growing numbers. by not back filling with new grads, the rn pipeline has effectively been shut off. eventually, something is going to give. hiring foreign rn's is not a solution any more because it won't get by the us congress; the government requires that employers demonstrate a critical shortage of an imported job skill that cannot be resourced by available us workers before it allows h1 visas. so we won't be seeing any massive wave of foreigner nurses like we did in the 1980's.

    the above comment by barry pactor is clearly evident that the business arena is keen to offer solutions for this. he's wrong of course, in that the shortage exist because of nursing trapped in training. the problem is that even nurses who have been fully trained are being passed over by hospitals. many remain jobless despite graduation a year ago.

    my fear is, that there is going to be a creative hospital administrator who will insist that non-rn bedside technicians be allowed to assist the rn. these will be something along the lines of a gloried aide or paramedic; who can give meds like an lpn (under an rn's supervision of course), but more importantly, can be trained and hired for much less than an rn. this sort of dollars and cents solution has huge potential for political resonance if it just happens to hit the right ear. for nurses and others, who think that the national health care plans being discussed is bad; lol... you don't know the half of it.

    nurses have to realize that in order to prevent something like this, they need to be proactive in political discussions about nursing and the direction of the profession. hence, the nursing "shortage crisis" does not necessarily mean more money for nurses, but rather it could harbinger the death of an industry as we know it.

    support your nursing unions!
    Last edit by Emergency RN on Dec 23, '09
  11. by   elkpark
    I've been hearing new reports on Buerhaus' study for years now -- it's the same study and figures, and it keeps get recycled over and over again. They ought to do some interviews (and head counts) of all the licensed new grads who can't find jobs, instead of repeatedly interviewing people who have something to gain from promoting the idea of a nursing "shortage."
  12. by   Mijourney
    Everyone has made great points. Times have changed, but they've also stayed the same. Nursing keeps falling into the same rut over and over again. We can't even come to a workable solution or agree on anything regarding the ongoing "crises" within our ranks. I truly believe we're large enough to become powerful enough.
  13. by   karenchad
    Now who does this Barry person think he's kidding. How many of these TEMPORARY imported nurse are going to give up their jobs, paying them more then they could ever make in their own countries for a new grad nurse- what just keeping the seat warm - Right! The problem with nursing students and new nurses is they are new- and these jokers (Barry Pactor) are taking advantage of that, and filling impressionable people's heads full of crap. It's just another marketing sales pitch.
  14. by   HeartsOpenWide
    I was around, but too young to know the news. What did Ronnie do with the Air Traffic Controllers?