Whether you are thinking about pursuing a career in nursing, are already working toward a nursing degree or already in the profession, chances are you’ve heard something about our country’s nursing shortage.
At a time when finding a job is tougher than ever, the nursing field is still in high demand, along with several other healthcare professions. In the next decade, that high demand is expected to continue to rise due to our country’s nursing shortage.
The term “nursing shortage” refers to the shortfalls in desired nurse-to-patient and nurse-to-population ratios as well as what students are probably most concerned with — the number of job openings in the nursing field compared to the number of nursing workforce. For students as well as nurses currently in the field, it’s important to understand the causes and effects of the nursing shortage in order to understand the challenges and opportunities nurses face in the next decade.
What the "Experts" are Saying
While many experts say the nursing shortage has eased recently, they also tend to agree that a far greater nursing shortage looms in the near future like a balloon waiting to pop. That is because the baby boomer population continues age, while at the same time much of the nursing workforce plans to retire.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, more than half of nurses surveyed in a 2006 study said they planned to retire before 2020. At the same time, many baby boomers will have already reached their 70s, placing a heavy demand on the healthcare system.
Bloomberg.com published an article earlier this year questioning the current state of the nursing shortage. However, the article agreed that a bigger nursing shortage was on the horizon around 2020. According to Bloomberg, the poor economy has prompted many nurses to hold onto their jobs rather than retire. That stat leads many experts to believe that as the economy recovers, large numbers of nurses will take their overdue retirements. This will take a large bite out of the number of nurses in the workforce, while also leaving large gaps in nursing experience and leadership.
The forecasted shortage presents some big challenges for the nursing field. However, it also presents some great opportunities for nurses not only to find jobs, but to move up into leadership roles sooner in their careers. Nurses’ roles are expanding as the healthcare system also faces a similar shortage of doctors. Those new roles, combined with the need for experience and leadership, are at the heart of the increased demand for nurses with bachelor’s and advanced degrees.
Success at NMC
Our growth at Nebraska Methodist College has reflected the increased demand for nurses, as well as the demand for nurses with advanced degrees. In the last five years, we’ve seen a 52 percent increase in our student population, which is now near 1,000 students, and growth coming in a number of areas. More importantly, our students are finding jobs soon after they graduate. At NMC, 98 percent of our students find a job within six months of graduation — a telling statistic about the need for skilled nurses.