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The Nursing Shortage

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The Nursing Shortage

Despite recent trends in unemployment, the American healthcare system can't hire fast enough. The country is currently facing a drastic shortage of nurses. Nurses serve important functions for each patient receiving health care, both medically and personally. With declining numbers of nursing school graduates, hospitals and clinics spend greater attention and resources on attracting and maintaining nurses.
A survey conducted in 2000 showed that 30 states suffered from a nursing shortage. In 2004, over 70 percent of hospital supervisors reported problems with the nursing shortage. According to more recent studies, there are 116,000 unfilled nursing positions in U.S. Hospitals, and 100,000 unfilled nursing and related positions in nursing homes. These numbers are only increasing. According to some studies, twenty years from now, at least 44 states and the District of Columbia will be hit by a shortage of registered nurses (RNs).
Understanding the reasons America finds herself in this crisis will help the healthcare system win back and keep nurses by addressing the issues that cause so many to leave their jobs. Trends and statistics are analyzed and new programs created by medical institutions The main factor in the nursing shortage is the Baby Boomer generation. This demographic is aging and as they do so, the demand for medical services increases. Had the nursing force even maintained previous levels, there would still be a shortage. However older Baby Boomer RNs have retired, further decreasing the pool of nurses available.
Recent measures taken to counteract the shortage have resulted in a slight increase in nursing school enrollment. Still, without greater measures taken, there will still be a far greater demand for nurses than people willing and able to take the job. Indeed, some estimates say that for future medical demands to be met, the number of young people enrolling in nursing programs must increase by at least 40 percent annually.
The problem with this is that enrollment potential is constrained by other factors. An estimated 66 percent of U.S. nursing schools had to turn down qualified applicants because of insufficient staff, laboratories, and clinical facilities to teach them. However, the Baby Boomers control most of the wealth in this country, so their demands will have a greater financial impact. As they grow increasingly older, their expenditures are more significantly medical. All this means that now is a great time to become a nurse. The shortage is causing improvements to be made to entice more nurses to fill the demand of this populous, wealthy demographic.

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