Over the past two years, we have seen how the COVID19 pandemic has put a lot of stress and strain on healthcare systems around the world. It has become clear just how big the problem is in the US when it comes to the nursing shortage. Currently, reports suggest that the US does not have enough working registered nurses to meet the growing demands or development goals of healthcare, from even before there was a global pandemic to deal with.
The World Health Organization carried out research in 2018 with the conclusion that around the world, six million more nurses are needed on average for healthcare systems to be at their most efficient.
For the past few years, the nursing shortage in the US has been one of the worst the country has seen, with job openings for nurses expected to reach in the millions in the next ten years. So, what’s behind this acute shortage of nurses? There are many reasons that have all come at the same time to lead to such a serious shortage of these necessary professionals.
One of the main reasons for the nursing shortage is the aging population; with more older peoplethan ever before, demand on healthcare is increasing significantly. With an aging population, many nurses themselves are also getting older, reaching retirement age, and leaving the profession. This is coupled with a shortage of nurse educators, with colleges and nursing schools in a position where they are turning applicants down simply because they do not have the faculty needed to teach more students and get more nurses out into the job.
Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons for the nursing shortage in more detail.
An Aging Population:
With people living for longer today thanks to many advancements in medical science, the population is getting older, and more demands are being put on healthcare since seniors are more likely to require healthcare compared to younger people. In addition to this, the birth rate is dropping, leaving the population made up of almost a majority of older people. 45% of the population are expected to be seniors within the next few years, compared to much smaller numbers of under-18s. While the idea of living a longer life is something that most people welcome, it’s also one of the biggest reasons behind the mass shortage of nurses.
Along with the general population, nurses are also getting older – and many of them are reaching the end of their careers. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the average nurse’s age today is around fifty years old. While fifty isn’t quite old enough to retire, more and more nurses are getting closer to retirement age, and since this profession is quite physically and mentally demanding, a lot of nurses do decide to retire early. Many older nurses are retiring simply because their health is not good enough for them to keep up with the growing mental and physical demands of the job, or because they are struggling with keeping up with all the new and emerging technologies in healthcare.
Nurse Educator Shortage:
Direct links have been made between a shortage of nurses and a shortage of nurse educators. Nursing students need experienced, advanced nurses to provide their education, and with not enough of these professionals working in colleges and nursing schools around the country, educational institutions are simply unable to keep up with the demand for new nurses. Research suggests that people do want to become nurses and nursing degree programs get thousands of applicants each year, but a lack of educators has left colleges and nursing schools having to limit the number of students that they can take on at a time.
If you are currently working as a nurse and want to help relieve the shortage, becoming a nurse educator can be one of the best ways to do this. With an MSN to DNP online from Marymount University, you can become a nurse educator who is able to teach nurses at every level.
Overwork and Burnout in Nursing:
The nursing shortage is also now becoming a serious problem, leading to more nurses leaving this career and creating an even bigger shortfall. With nurses dealing with fewer colleagues on each shift, those working in this role are more at risk of becoming overworked, overwhelmed, and burned out, especially over the past two years with the COVID19 pandemic taking hold. The number of nurses working in this profession today is simply not enough to meet the complex and growing healthcare needs of the population. Many nurses are deciding to leave or change their career due to becoming exhausted working in a position where it can sometimes feel impossible to do their job well with scarce resources and little support. However, many nurses are willing to return to the profession once the shortage is over and things are better.
What Started the Shortage of Nurses?
According to the WHO, there have always been periods of nursing shortages throughout time, which typically have resolved on their own, usually with more nurses entering the profession. However, within the past ten years, there have been more factors than usual impacting the number of nurses around the world, causing the nursing shortage to get to a point where it cannot be resolved quickly. This is mainly due to more nurses reaching retirement age and deciding to take early retirement, along with a lack of nurse educators to prepare new nurses for the role, coupled with a population that is getting older and requiring more healthcare. Although most healthcare organizations, nursing schools, and policymakers are working hard to resolve the issue, serious changes still need to be made.
Is The Nursing Shortage a Worldwide Issue?
While the US is a country that has been hit particularly hard by the shortage of nurses, many countries around the world are also dealing with the same issue. Currently, there are several countries globally that are experiencing a shortage of nurses in some way. Right now, nurses make up around half of the worldwide healthcare workforce, but with retirements and a lack of new nurses getting into the profession, the WHO estimates that around 6-7 million nurses will be needed around the world in the next ten years.
Where is Most Affected?
In the US, not every state is experiencing the same impact of the nursing shortage. With most nurses preferring to work in an urban area, rural and remote areas tend to be the mosthard hit when it comes to hiring new healthcare professionals and patients being able to access the healthcare that they need. Over the past two years, the COVID19 pandemic has made it clear just how much the shortage of nurses is impacting some of these areas, but it has also highlighted the fact that urban areas are also suffering in some way. For example, New York was particularly hard-hit by the pandemic. Currently, Georgia, Nevada, and California have the lowest numbers of nurses while New York, Texas, and Georgia have more nursing vacancies than other states.
Which Nurses are in Most Demand?
Nurses in every department, unit and specialty area are needed across the country. The shortage of registered nurses has hit almost every field of healthcare. Nurse educators are also another type of advanced nursing professional that is in serious demand since an increase of nurse educators means that more students can be trained as registered nurses and enter the profession to relieve the shortage and add more numbers. Throughout the pandemic, there has also been a higher demand for nurses who are trained in acute care with the skill-set needed to treat patients who have been seriously impacted by the virus.
Why Get Into Nursing Right Now?
Getting into nursing right now is a good idea for anybody who wants a career where it will be easy for them to find work, enjoy high job security, and make a difference in the world in many ways. Despite the nursing shortage, this is still one of the most rewarding career options that you can choose to do. Some of the main reasons to consider getting into a nursing career right now include:
· High Demand:
The nursing shortage means that the demand for nurses is higher than ever, so your skills and qualifications will often be able to help you land work almost immediately after you qualify and get your license to practice as a registered nurse. Most healthcare employers today are looking to hire new nurses. If you’re currently working in a non-nursing healthcare role, your employer may even be willing to pay for your tuition to become a nurse because the demand is so high.
· Competitive Salary:
With healthcare employers desperate for nurses, the average salary for nurses is on the rise as more employers try to encourage more people to come and work for them as a nurse. Nurses currently earn an average of $80k per year and there are various opportunities to increase this further with opportunities to advance your career into a range of different roles and specialty areas that pay more.
· Job Security:
The nursing shortage means that once a healthcare employer has employed a good nurse, they are going to do whatever it takes to keep them happy in their job and make sure that it is secure. Nurses are needed everywhere, and most employers want to take on nurses who will work long-term, so you can certainly enjoy a lot of job security when working in this role.
How to Get Into Nursing:
With all the main benefits of nursing clear to see, and a shortage that means the demand for nurses is higher, jobs are more secure, and nurses are earning more, it’s no surprise that more people are considering getting into nursing right now. If you are worried about the shortage of nurses and the impact of this on the healthcare system, becoming a registered nurse is one of the best things you could decide to do. To become a nurse, you will need to get a degree in nursing. You can get an associate’s degree to get started but bear in mind that this will not qualify you to get onto most of the advanced training programs available for nurses and your options for career advancement might be limited. However, it will get you into a role as a registered nurse as quickly as possible, where you can gain experience and study further in the future.
Getting a BSN is the best way to get into nursing today. The BSN is a full degree that takes around four years to complete, including clinical experience. Today, you can choose from traditional BSN programs at a college campus or get your BSN online, which is a much more flexible option for those who need to work full-time while studying. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a different subject, an accelerated BSN might be something worth considering. This program is designed to build on the basic knowledge and skills that you have gained from getting a bachelor’s degree in a different subject to get you straight into what you need to start working as a nurse. Since it is an intense degree that cuts out anything you probably already know, this program will take around half the time of a traditional BSN, making it an ideal choice for career changers who want to save money and get into nursing as quickly as possible.
If you follow healthcare news, you’ve probably heard about the shortage of nurses in the US and around the world right now. This is a result of an aging population, more nurses retiring, and fewer nursing educators than are needed to get new nurses into the profession, along with other factors. If you’re interested in becoming a nurse and contributing to reducing the shortage, you can now get an online degree to get started in your new career.