Table of Contents
The Problem 2
The Causes of the Nursing Shortage 2
The Impact of the Nursing Shortage 5
Current Federal Legislation 6
Works Cited 11
Current literature continues to reiterate the indicators of a major shortage of registered nurses (RNs) in the United States. The total RN population has been increasing since 1980, which means that we have more RNs in this country than ever before (Nursing Shortage). Even though the RN population is increasing, it is growing at a much slower rate then when compared to the rate of growth of the U.S. population (Nursing Shortage). We are seeing less skilled nurses “at a time of an increasingly aging population with complex care needs and an increasingly complex technological care environment” (Mion). According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Department of Health and Human Services, it is estimated that “more than a million new and replacement nurses will be needed over the next decade” (Diagnosis: Critical).
A chronic nursing shortage has been a reoccurring problem that impacts the future of our health care system and, even more so, the future quality of long-term care in this country. Currently, there are several federal and state initiatives, organizations, and agencies dedicated to solutions of the shortage. However, we continue to lack the necessary number of RNs needed to deliver quality care to a population with growing health care demands.
The Causes of the Nursing Shortage
There are several factors that are considered the causes of the nursing shortage. Literature suggests that the shortage is linked to factors related to current population trends and the nature of the health care environment. One of the major contributing factors to the shortage is the increasing aging population. Although the largest profession in the health care industry is nursing, a larger number of people are getting older and living longer. This means that more people will need nursing care, whether it’s in a hospital, a long-term care facility or at home. It is projected that long-term care facilities will need 66% more RNs by 2020 (Addressing the Nursing). The increase in life expectancy has amplified the complexity of health care because more people are living with chronic conditions. The American Nurses Association reported that “a large cross-sectional study of over 1,000,000 adults revealed that 82% had one or more chronic conditions” and we are seeing an increase of those age 65 and older living with multiple chronic conditions (Mion). Now, more than ever, there is a high demand for the best delivery of medical care.
As the general population continues to age and grow, the nursing workforce is aging alongside. Approximately half of the current nursing workforce is apart of the baby boomer generation (Mion). RNs are eligible to retire at age 55, which will affect the majority of “baby boomer” nurses between 2005 and...