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Nursing Shortage to Worsen Over Next 2 Decades

Nursing Shortage to Worsen Over Next 2 Decades

Over the next 2 decades, we will see an increasing shortage of nurses if current trends continue, according to a report by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The report points to a worsening shortfall as nurses retire and too few new people enter the field. In the year 2000, there were an estimated 1.89 million registered nurses in the United States, while the demand for nurses was 2 million—a gap of 6%.

The report forecasts that the shortage will double by 2010 and triple by 2015. Trends indicate a 40% increase in demand vs a 6% increase in the numbers of RNs over the period of 2000 to 2020. Demand is expected to grow at an annual rate of 1.7%, but the projected growth in supply is expected to peak at 10% by 2011 and then decline. Moreover, the nursing shortage is not evenly distributed across the 50 states. In 2000, 30 states had a shortage of nurses, but the report projects that by 2020, 44 states and the District of Columbia will have nursing shortfalls.

To help address the issue, Congress recently approved and President Bush signed the Nurse Reinvestment Act, which calls for loans, scholarships, and grants for students, along with a public service campaign promoting nursing careers. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the American Nurses Association applaud the legislation. However, funding for the act has not yet been approved.

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