Nursing Shortage to Worsen Over Next 2 Decades

Oncology, ONCOLOGY Vol 16 No 12, Volume 16, Issue 12

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

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 2010and triple by 2015. Trends indicate a 40% increase in demand vs a 6% increase inthe numbers of RNs over the period of 2000 to 2020. Demand is expected to growat an annual rate of 1.7%, but the projected growth in supply is expected topeak at 10% by 2011 and then decline. Moreover, the nursing shortage is notevenly distributed across the 50 states. In 2000, 30 states had a shortage ofnurses, but the report projects that by 2020, 44 states and the District ofColumbia will have nursing shortfalls.

To help address the issue, Congress recently approved and President Bushsigned the Nurse Reinvestment Act, which calls for loans, scholarships, andgrants for students, along with a public service campaign promoting nursingcareers. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the American NursesAssociation applaud the legislation. However, funding for the act has not yetbeen approved.