Healthcare Hiring Up, But Nurse Shortage Projected to Increase

Healthcare Hiring Up, But Nurse Shortage Projected to IncreaseDecember 11, 2014 by Vickie Anenberg

In preliminary numbers for October 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted there are now approximately 14.5 million workers employed in healthcare nationwide. Further, the pace of hiring has steadily increased over the past 12 months in most healthcare sectors. However, research indicates there is a current shortage of 25,000 nurses across the country with this number projected to increase as momentum grows for members of the “baby boom” generation to reach retirement.

Overall, healthcare added some 24,500 jobs in October. The demand for ambulatory workers was strongest, with an increase of 18,500. Hospital employment grew by 3,500. Only outpatient care showed no growth.

In 2013, BLS projected that there will be a 19 percent increase needed in the number of registered nurses, totaling 526,800 from 2012 through 2022. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, in spite of a 2.6 percent increase in nursing school enrollment in 2013, the number of registered nurses entering the job market will fall far short of the need. Nursing schools are now turning away literally tens of thousands of qualified applicants due to a lack of faculty, classroom space, budgetary constraints, and related factors. This shortage will likely have the greatest impact in the South and West where the nation’s population is increasing fastest.

Across the entire spectrum of healthcare, competition for qualified professionals will only increase, particularly as the number of retired people grows. In nursing, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that 17.5 percent of licensed RNs leave their first job in just the first year, and another 33.5 percent move on within two years. This compounds the competitive climate, and there appears to be nothing in the immediate future that will reduce this trend.

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