(i forgot to quote the original poster)
no nursing shortage?! perhaps it may seem that we don't have a current nursing shortage now because of all the nurses listed (working or not), but the concerns of a nursing shortage are of those nurses who won't be able to work anymore and for the future in general.
two main issues behind these concerns: 1) many current nurses are aging and growing old (est. average age is about 46.8 yrs old), and 2) the overall population is growing old too. one main reason behind both issues: the baby boomers. you've all learned about the baby boomers in history class. birth rates rose an enormous amount between 1945-1957. we are the generation to replace them and to care for them.
your teacher mentioned that there are nurses out there who are not working due to poor work environments- did she provide a specific percentage and source? yes, some nurses may have stopped working because of it, but not that large of an amount to be able to join current nurses to handle the future's older age group. how many of those nurses that stopped working are older than 30? i'm sure the majority of those nurses are within the baby boomer ages.
many of you have already listed SIGNIFICANT contributing factors as well, like: poor working conditions/benefits/compensations (avoiding to work at specific hospitals and even avoiding to work as a nurse!), RNs finding interests in other fields (business, management positions), shortage of teachers in nursing programs, etc. it's harder to address solutions for some of these issues.
aging nurses + large aging population= many, many old patients to care for and few nurses to care for them. yes, many of these nurses will work until they drop, but then it comes down to issues of safety and reliability. it's just a matter of figuring out that we'll have a nursing shortage and putting all the pieces together.
here are some links:
Registered nurses (job outlook)
American Nurses Association | Nursing Facts: Nursing Shortage