How long do you think this nursing shortage will last?

Nurses General Nursing


Hi, Everyone:

I am thinking going for nursing as my career. Yesterday I went to a community college to register for A&P I class. I saw the registry to see the counclor, 9 out of 10 people are for studying nursing. When I saw another counclor, and when I was registering my class, most of people besides me seem to taking nursing major.

It reminds me of IT market 4 years ago. At that time, computer science is a hot major and a lot of people try to get into it. And suddenly, within one year, the job market went down sharply, with many many people with many many years' experience could not find a job, not to mention those new graduates.

It will take me at least 3 years to finish ADN. I was afraid, what will the nursing job market be when I graduate? with so many people switch to nursing in this country, and with so many foreign nurses get into or try to get into this country? will the market be saturated soon? Three years later, can I still find a job? How long will this nursing shortage last?

People already in this field, please give me what you think and advice? Thanks a lot...

suzanne4, RN

26,410 Posts

I have been a nurse for many, many years and there have always been jobs all over. And there always will be. The "severe" shortage that was going on about 25 years ago got better for awhile, but there have always been jobs.

But consider this, you should be going into nursing because it is something that you really want to do, not because it is the most in fashion now.

When I graduated from school I was making $8.49 per hour with a B.S. and a nursing degree, students that were in class with me and graduated actually did not practice because they could get three more dollars per hour as a supermarket cashier.

Computers and their software can be shipped all over, as well as the people that work in that field.

Patients are always going to be here, and there are just going to be more and more of them....................I wouldn't worry........... :)

Specializes in Emergency Room.

anything is possible, but i don't see nursing going any where. many people are choosing nursing careers because of the job stability, but once people get into nursing and see the demands of the career, sometimes it is too much for them to handle. i suggest anyone that is thinking about a career in nursing shadow a nurse or work/volunteer in a hospital before making definite decisions. although bedside nursing presents the most challenges, there are other choices in nursing that are not as stressful as bedside nursing. i love being a nurse, but i know 15 years from now or less i probably won't be at the bedside ( at least not fulltime). best wishes with whatever you decide.

gwenith, BSN, RN

3,755 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

As far as I have been able to tell the "shortage" has been with us for about 50+ years sometimes it goes away for a while and then it is back again - doesn't look like changing any time soon.


307 Posts

Thanks for all the replies... I want to go for nursing not only just because of the job security. My current job is pretty stable. I love to help people in a direct way like nursing, not indirectly as a general leger accountant and CPA as I am now. But of course, if I do the switch, I wish to have a chance to work in the new field. I will make final decision as I go for these prerequisites. It doesn't hurt to study these classes no matter if I go for nursing or not.


3,905 Posts

Excuse the length of my post, but I have looked long and hard at this question. I am a downsizee who's working on a second career. I can't afford to waste time on another career, just to be laid off.

Therefore, I've done a lot of homework, and I don't think there's too much to worry about, even though there are many people going into nursing, and even though there are tons of RNs on this board who will tell you there's no "real" shortage.

The primary reason is that the nursing shortage is expected to increase to 800,000 vacant positions in the next 16 years. So, even if there is increased supply, that still leaves a lot of room for job stability. Keep in mind that there are many reasons for the shortage. To name just a few:

* While many students major in nursing, more than 80 percent don't make it, either in pre-reqs, nursing school itself, or they don't pass the NCLEX, limiting supply. You'll see this first hand in school.

* The average age of RNs is 47, and half a million nurses are expected to retire in the next 16 years, limiting supply.

* Aging baby boomers are expected to increase demand for RNs, 11,000 more positions this year alone and, the above mentioned 800,000 positions long term.

So why do nurses say there's no "real" shortage? They point to this U.S. Health Department report (my primary source for the above mentioned info) which says 500,000 licensed nurses aren't working.

The reason, they say, is that many nurses have left the profession due to lousy working conditions. While I have no doubt that working conditions are a contributing factor, it's not the whole story.

70 percent of those people are over age 50, and many may be on the verge of retiring. Not surprizingly, retirements and deaths jumped to 175,000 from a relatively stable 25,000 in the last two surveys. So we don't really know how many of those people are choosing not to work (i.e. lousy working conditions), versus those who simply can't work.

But here's the bottom line for the future: Even if you assume that the pool of 500,000 non-working licensed RNs increases to 650,000 (at the same rate that pool has increased in the last decade) ...

And even if you assume that working conditions improved, and all of them could and would return to work (although it's highly unlikely due to advanced age) ....

You'd still have a "real" shortage since it wouldn't come close to filling those 800,000 projected vacancies. So, even if the supply side increases (with more nursing school grads and/or foreign nurses) it still leaves a lot of room for job stability ... Mostly because of increased demand from aging baby boomers.

I'd say the nursing shortage will last another 20 years and, probably, longer.


llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

Lizz: Great post!

I also agree strongly with those who say that you should not go into nursing primarily because of the job prospects. It is the type of career that requires a certain amount of affection for it in order to be able to do it. It's not the kind of job you will be any good at or be successful at if your heart is not in it. Now, don't get me wrong .... I am not one of those people who thinks a nurse needs to have a "true calling" or anything like that. It's just that the realities of nursing are tougher than most people imagine -- and most people who don't have at least some sort of committment to the actual work of nursing don't stay in the profession.



307 Posts

Lizz: Wonderful post!!!


3,905 Posts

Thanks. I just think it's important to try to look at all of the data, rather than relying upon speculation, when you're examining this important question.


Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

97 Articles; 21,237 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

lizz - you are a real asset to the board - thanks so much!


45 Posts

I believe it is going to get worse before it gets better. The reason I say that is the generation {"baby boomers"} are in a few years going to become the patients and not the caregivers. Also, to be honest, I think the responsibility, stress, and impossible standard that nurses are held to make nursing a job that is certainly morally/spiritually satisfying, but practically not really a very good job. Plumbers make much more money. Go figure.



I read somewhere (sorry, no reference) that in consideration of the number of nurses, their current age, and when they will qualify for retirement, that we will lose 11,000 per year. We need smart people in nursing.

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