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Nurse Shortage in the U.S.
 

In 2004, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) projected that the U.S. nationwide nursing shortage will rise to 17.29% by 2010, 26.61% by 2015, and reach 36.00% by 2020.

In the same 2004 DHHS projection, Florida's statewide shortage will rise to 22.60% by 2010, 32.93& by 2015, and reach 43.24% by 2020. The velocity of the Florida nurse shortage accelerates even faster than the national shortage as baby boomers rush to Florida for their golden years. Based on this projection, by the year 2020, 43 of every 100 nursing positions in Florida, on average, will remain vacant. Florida is ranked 15 among states with the greatest projected nursing shortage in the nation by the year 2020, where Arkansas is ranked No 1, with the highest projected shortage of 70% by 2020.

In the U.S., especially in South Florida where senior citizens and aging baby boomers have relocated, a severe nursing shortage has steadily evolved over the past 25-plus years. Study data supports that the ongoing increased medical and healthcare demands are quickly reaching the "critical" stage. Nursing Resource International understands that the dire need for quality nursing care directly affects overall quality of life. Providing the right level of care at the right time can make the difference between life and death.

The current national nurse position vacancy rate is over 15%. Around the country, the story is the same. Vacancy rates for nursing positions at the 470 hospitals in California averaged 200n December 2001, according to the California Health Care Association. At Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., the largest and busiest hospital between New York City and Albany, more than 25% of the positions for operating room nurses were unfilled as of late 2006. Surgeries backed up and were postponed, sometimes for several days.

Hospital administrators and nurses expect the shortage to worsen. In March 2000, the average age of working registered nurses (RN) was 44.3, an increase from 42.3 years in 1996 (according to the seventh National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses conducted in 2000 by the Division of Nursing within the Bureau of Health Professionals). A study published in the July 2000 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) predicts that 400f registered nurses by 2010 will be 50 years old or older. Hence, the number of retiring nurses continues to rise more quickly, creating a deepening gap in healthcare delivery.

Compounding the dilemma, enrollment in nursing programs is declining. Among the registered nurse population, the group under the age of 30 dropped to 9.1% in 2000 from 25.1% in 1980. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing shows that between 1995 and 2002, the number of first-time nursing graduates had decreased by 30,000, or 31.3%. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) reports that the number of individuals taking the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure EXamination - Registered Nurse) exam each year has declined consistently since 1994.

According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, more than 1 million new and replacement nurses will be needed in the next decade nationwide.

To watch an NBC Nightly News piece on U.S. nursing shortage, click here.

For more on U.S. nursing shortage, please read a monograph on the subject.



 
 
Nursing Resource International
P.O. Box 452095, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33345, U.S.A.
Email: info@nrinternational.org



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