The Nursing Shortage In the United States

For those students interested in careers in healthcare, becoming a nurse right now could be the best decision for you. Currently, the United States is facing a severe nursing shortage. For several reasons, the number of nurses graduating and entering the workforce, and those already in the profession, is not enough to fill the growing demand. Currently, RNs are the largest group of healthcare workers in the US at roughly 2.6 million and that still isn’t enough to meet the need. According to experts, by 2012, there could be around 1.1 million unfilled nursing positions in the United States.

One reason for the nursing shortage is the aging baby boomer population. There were seventy-six million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 and are now classified the Baby Boomer Generation. As this population reaches retirement age and beyond, they are requiring more medical treatments and nursing home and long term care facilities. This country is also seeing an increase in population in general, projected to grow 18% over the next two decades. With more patients flooding the healthcare system, there simply aren’t enough nurses to meet this growing need.

Another problem contributing to the nursing shortage is a lack of educational programs for nurses. Many colleges and universities simply do not have the funding to expand their nursing programs, forcing many schools to cut the number of students they accept, leaving many students turned away from the school of their choice. Also, without adequate funding, these colleges are unable to hire the appropriate faculty required to teach nursing programs. Fewer students, less money and less faculty all add up to not enough students graduating with nursing degrees and entering the job market.

In light of this nursing shortage, it should be relatively easy for you to find gainful employment after graduation should you choose to study nursing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 581,000 new Registered Nurse (RN) positions will be created through 2018, which will increase that workforce by an astounding 22%. The BLS also estimates that even as other sectors of our economy continue to suffer, the healthcare sector will only continue to grow. Since the recession began, more than 600,000 positions have been created in the healthcare industry. With so many Americans out of work in other fields, a career in healthcare, specifically in nursing, might be a viable career choice.

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