A research that was published by American Public Health Association journal Medical Care predicts that there will be a shortage of around 130,000 nurses in 2025. This research report is in direct contrast to a previous estimate decades ago that the shortage will be from 500,000 to 800,000 nurses. Will this be a major problem for health care leaders?
Previous estimates made by the Journal of American Medical Association in 2000 spurred several changes in health care. Worries about the supply of nurses in the workforce were eased due to the delayed RN retirements for economic reasons. Foundations, corporation and other stakeholders joined hands to encourage enrollment in nursing programs. The results of the study were something that woke everybody up and if they do not do something about the issue it will turn out to be a very big problem for the healthcare industry.
The results of the new research are far less serious than what was previously forecasted. From 800,000 to 130,000 is a big number that will allay all the worries of not having any qualified nurses in the future. Perhaps, all the efforts worked at encouraging new nurses. On the other hand, the recent recession led to slower retirement rates among the older RN’s in the healthcare workforce.
In the Medical Care study, the total full-time equivalent RN workforce is expected to reach 3.3 million in 2030. It was previously estimated at 2.7 million as of 2013. The Medical Care study was based on the researcher’s estimates of supply and the federal government’s estimates of the expected demand for nurses. However, the federal government’s Health Resources and Services Administration forecasts are subjected to potential volatile forces that can include the effects of the efforts to transform how health care is provided.
Peter Berhaus who is one of the study’s co-authors and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies of Montana State University warns that recent lower estimates of a 120,000 shortage of nurses is still high enough and requires immediate attention. Should a serious shortage occur in the future, it would affect the hospital’s ability to have their units open.