The U.S. Is Running Out of Nurses

As one of the older, experienced nurses that just retired from the profession, I can tell you that this article is not too far fetched.  Yes, nursing has a very large influx of new nurses every year.  Yes, nursing schools have to turn away people every year.  That is only a small part of the solution to this problem.

The real problem is that most working nurses are 40, 50, or more.  They are getting ready to retire, or they will have to retire due to health, or they are simply tired of nursing and quit.  The numbers are unbelievable.

There has always been a buzz about the “nursing shortage” during my entire career.  What makes this worse is the confluence of age of nurses working today with the low number of nurses that can be produced by nursing schools due to shortage of nursing educators.  Add to that the aging population with increasingly more chronic health problems and you have a recipe for CRISIS.

Please read this article and see if you agree that we are about to be in dire straits.


 

The U.S. Is Running Out of Nurses

The country has experienced nursing shortages for decades, but an aging population means the problem is about to get much worse.

Five years ago, my mother was rushed to the hospital for an aneurysm. For the next two weeks, my family and I sat huddled around her bed in the intensive-care unit, oscillating between panic, fear, uncertainty, and exhaustion.It was nurses that got us through that time with our sanity intact. Nurses checked on my mother—and us—multiple times an hour. They ran tests, updated charts, and changed IVs; they made us laugh, allayed our concerns, and thought about our comfort. The doctors came in every now and then, but the calm dedication of the nurses was what kept us together. Without them, we would have fallen apart.

Which is just one reason why the prospect of a national nursing shortage is so alarming. The U.S. has been dealing with a nursing deficit of varying degrees for decades, but today—due to an aging population, the rising incidence of chronic disease, an aging nursing workforce, and the limited capacity of nursing schools—this shortage is on the cusp of becoming a crisis, one with worrying implications for patients and health-care providers alike.

America’s 3 million nurses make up the largest segment of the health-care workforce in the U.S., and nursing is currently one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country. Despite that growth, demand is outpacing supply. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022.* By 2025, the shortfall is expected to be “more than twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s,” a team of Vanderbilt University nursing researchers wrote in a 2009 paper on the issue.

The primary driving force in this looming crisis is the aging of the Baby Boomer generation: Today, there are more Americans over the age of 65 than at any other time in U.S. history. Between 2010 and 2030, the population of senior citizens will increase by 75 percent to 69 million, meaning one in five Americans will be a senior citizen; in 2050, an estimated 88.5 million people in the U.S. will be aged 65 and older.

And as the population ages, demand for health-care services will soar. About 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic condition, and 68 percent have at least two, according to the National Council on Aging. A USA Today analysis of Medicare data revealed that two-thirds of traditional Medicare beneficiaries older than 65 have multiple chronic conditions, a number that will only continue to climb…(read the rest of this article)

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