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The Nursing Shortage – Everything You Need To Know

For many in the healthcare industry, the idea of a nursing shortage isn’t a new concept. Historically there have been periodical nurse shortages and similar conditions as far back as the early 1900s. Then again in 2012 when we saw an increased focus on the implications of the shortage. As such a persistent issue, how has the U.S. not been able to find a solution? Unfortunately, there are many factors at play (world wars, recessions, aging workforce, booming population) that make it difficult to find a clear solution to this problem.

With over 4.2 million RNs and 950,000 LPNs/LVNs recorded in 2020, it can be hard to comprehend that there is a shortage of healthcare professionals. But research by the American Nurses Association suggests that over 1.1 million additional nurses are needed in 2022 in order to address the shortage.

As the recent COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, having a shortage of healthcare workers has put an added strain on those that are currently working because of limited staff and resources. Unfortunately, this also increased the number of nurses retiring, and subsequently fueled the shortage further. As of a study completed in February of 2022, 34% of nurses said that it was very likely they would leave their roles before the end of the year.

Why Does it Matter?

Being understaffed in the medical industry leads to more stress on employees and eventually leads to burnout. This creates a cycle of individuals becoming healthcare professionals to fill the shortage, becoming overworked because of the shortage and then transitioning to fewer demanding positions – ultimately increasing the shortage again.

This problem also has negative effects on the rest of the population as well, considering that fewer healthcare workers create increased wait times for care. Plus, as we all know already, employee satisfaction can often play a large role in consumer satisfaction. Another issue that is coming up is an increased possibility of medical errors occurring due to being understaffed.

Source: Pascale Carayon and Ayse Gurses, “Chapter 30: Nursing Workload and Patient Safety-A Human Factors Engineering Perspective,” Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses:

Current Projections

The United States Department of Health and Human Services predicts that by 2030, the following states will have the greatest need for nurses.

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. New Jersey
  4. South Carolina
  5. Alaska
  6. Georgia
  7. South Dakota

What Can We Do?

While there is no simple solution for this complex problem, there are strategies and practices that can help alleviate some of the pressure. One of the most obvious is creating greater access to education, as this is the foundation of growing the skilled nursing population. An issue that arises with this is as the number of skilled nurses who are retiring increases, the number of educators decreases.

A study in 2020 found that more than 80,000 qualified nursing school applicants were denied from baccalaureate and graduate programs because there were not enough qualified staff, clinical sites, classroom space, and allotted budget.

Some universities are doing their part by increasing their enrollment in nursing programs, with the University of Utah increasing their class by 25%. Four universities in the state of Washington have recently received a grant from Premera Blue Cross for $1.8 million to help aid in LPNs in earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The goal is that by having more nursing students getting their bachelor’s degrees, the region will be better suited to train future generations.

Further, increasing incentives for taking on leadership roles can help create opportunities for the future. Having an experienced nurse as a mentor can help younger nurses learn and create a better experience in the healthcare industry. This also demonstrates a possible career path for recent graduates and having an increase in the number of educator level nurses increases the ability to teach more students. Then by having younger generations of healthcare providers taking on leadership roles, they can better advise on the best benefits, tools, and packages to attract new talented nurses.

Another great option is encouraging advocacy related to healthcare policies that can create changes that help address the needs of nurses and ultimately address the shortage. Legislation that relates to regulating how many nurses and other healthcare workers are needed in facilities can help boost education institutes to increase enrollment and recruitment. This helps to create improved staffing practices so that facilities can provide a more supportive work environment and help with recruiting more.

Finally, as situations become increasingly unsafe with the healthcare staff shortages, facilities can ask for help from others by spreading awareness. One option is for hospitals and facilities to speak with local journalists and spread the word about their staffing needs. This can sometimes help nurses in the surrounding area become aware of potential job openings.

Another option for organizations that need help with finding healthcare professionals is by partnering with a healthcare staffing agency. Many organizations are using these agencies as tools for speeding up the hiring process and reducing the effort that hiring usually takes on administration. Healthcare staffing agencies are able to take the pressure off by finding qualified clinicians who are fully licensed and based locally, right where you need them. If you want more information regarding the benefits of healthcare staffing agencies, read our past blog here.

AnyPlace MD has access to thousands of healthcare professionals including RNs, LVNs/LPNs, paramedics, EMTs, surgical technicians, medical assistants, and support staff. To learn more about this service, call to speak with a representative or click here.

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E. Randy Eckert, MD
Medical Director

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Brenda Thompson,
Vice President of Human Resources

With over 20 years of Human Resource and Operations experience, Brenda brings her expertise and specialized skill set to Dental Health Management Solutions, AnyPlace MD and AnyPlace Audiology.  Her successful career includes working as an Executive Director in senior living communities and advancing her Human Resources career to Vice President of Human Resources. Brenda has a specific style and approach to balance risk-management and employee satisfaction.

Shane Stevens - AnyPlace MD- COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Solutions

Shane Stevens

Throughout my career, I have served and volunteered with several organizations including serving as an advisory board member for Concordia University Texas, an annual participant and supporter of Hounds for Heroes, the Special Olympics, and many others. I have also served as a deacon at the Austin Baptist Church since 2009. Shane earned a BS in Long-Term Health Care Administration from Texas State University in San Marcos.