Current and Projected Shortage Indicators
According to a report released by the American Hospital Association in April 2006, U.S. hospitals need approximately 118,000 Registered Nurses (RNs) to fill vacant positions nationwide. This translates into a national RN vacancy rate of 8.5%. The report, titled The State of America's Hospitals - Taking the Pulse, also found that 49% of hospital CEOs had more difficulty recruiting RNs in 2005 than in 2004.
According to the latest projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published in the November 2005 Monthly Labor Review, more than 1.2 million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2014. Government analysts project that more than 703,000 new RN positions will be created through 2014, which will account for two-fifths of all new jobs in the health care sector.
According to the 2005 survey by the American College of Health Executives on the Top Issues Confronting Hospitals, 85% of hospital CEOs reported having a shortage of registered nurses.
According to a report published in November 2004 as a Web exclusive of Health Affairs, Dr. Peter Buerhaus and colleagues found that "despite the increase in employment of nearly 185,000 hospital RNs since 2001, there is no empirical evidence that the nursing shortage has ended. To the contrary, national surveys of RNs and physicians conducted in 2004 found that a clear majority of RNs (82%) and doctors (81%) perceived shortages where they worked."
According to a July 2002 report by the Health Resources and Services Administration, 30 states were estimated to have shortages of registered nurses (RNs) in the year 2000. The shortage is projected to intensify over the next two decades with 44 states plus the District of Columbia expected to have RN shortages by the year 2020.
Contributing Factors Impacting the Nursing Shortage
Enrollment in schools of nursing is not growing fast enough to meet the projected demand for nurses over the next ten years.Though AACN reported a 9.6% enrollment increase in entry-level baccalaureate programs in nursing in 2005 over the previous year, this increase is not sufficient to meet the projected demand for nurses. In a report published in the November/December 2003 issue of Health Affairs, Dr. Peter Buerhaus and his colleagues found that "because the number of young RNs has decreased so dramatically over the past two decades, enrollments of young people in nursing programs would have to increase at least 40 percent annually to replace those expected to leave the workforce through retirement."