National Nursing Shortage
The U.S. nursing shortage is a critical issue, which involves myriad influences converging to create conditions described by some researchers as the perfect storm (Zolnierek, 2011). The U.S. departments of Census and Labor Statistics reports that approximately 40% of the nursing workforce is older than the age of 50, and less than 30% are under the age of 40. The nursing shortage will escalate from serious to critical as an unprecedented number of nurses begin to retire, while more than 30% of the nation’s population known as baby boomers enter an age requiring high levels of healthcare. Add to the already muddied water an additional 30 million previously uninsured Americans to the healthcare delivery system by 2014 because of healthcare reform; the demand for nurses will only intensify.
According to some reports, a shortage still exists in nursing. Despite an apparent reduction in the severity of the shortage, the need to continue to increase the number of nurses will continue to be a critical issue across the country. The nursing shortage is being fueled by increased demands from aging baby boomers, the increase rate of nurses retiring, and the expansion of healthcare reform.
The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO 2012 fact sheet report on nursing states that the demand for nurses is expected to rise as baby boomers retire. Nurses face difficulties with unsafe working conditions exacerbated by limited staffing, long work hours, injuries, missed work days, abuse, and shortages of registered nurses. These issues jeopardize patient safety, increase costs, and decrease efficiency.
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