How Travel Nurses can Help Solve the Nurse Shortage Crisis

How Travel Nurses can Help Solve the Nurse Shortage Crisis

The United States is projected to have a nursing shortage that is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows. Compounding the problem is the fact that nursing colleges and universities across the country are struggling to expand enrollment levels to meet the rising demand for nursing care. The result is an urgent need for more nurses throughout America’s hospitals and other institutions, especially nurses who deliver specialized care.

Causes of the Nursing Shortage Crisis

In early 2012 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the number of employed nurses will grow from 2.74 million in 2010 to 3.45 million in 2020, an increase of 712,000 or 26%; bringing the total number of job opening for nurses due to growth and replacements to 1.2 million by 2020. There are several reasons the U.S. is having trouble filling these positions, as the shortage of nurses today is considered both a supply and a demand shortage combining a broad range of issues.

One of the main causes is the recent sharp increase in the number patients seeking healthcare. On one hand there is the baby boom bubble – the aging of the Baby Boomers born from 1946 to 1964, which was followed by the 11-year baby bust, when the birth rate fell to a low of 146 births per 1,000. On the other hand, 30 million plus Americans added to insurance roles as the nation’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act becomes a reality. Hospitals and other healthcare employers are beginning to experience much more demand for services and are struggling to keep up.

Another underlying cause of the nursing shortage is a diminishing supply of new nursing students to the profession from an educational standpoint. In fall 2000, entry-level BSN enrollment fell by 2.1 percent, dropping for the sixth year in a row, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. This is compounded with the nation’s economic downturn, in which fewer students are seeking the necessary additional education for nursing positions. Overall, fewer nurses are available to replace those who retire or leave for other opportunities, leaving behind an aging workforce.

One other major cause is a rise of acuity in hospitals, due to the declining average length of stay and to new technology that allows rapid assessment, treatment and discharge. Hospitals are increasingly becoming large intensive care units, with cardiac monitoring, respiratory assistance and intense treatment a growing part of the average patient’s plan of care. Educated nurses are a necessary part of the growth of the overall system and improved patient care.

Travel Nurses Are a Solution

While hospitals are growing and recruiting for positions and staff, travel nurses have emerged as a practical way to fill the gap in skilled care allowing operations to run smoothly and accommodate new patients. The trend has developed into a specialized sub-set of the staffing agency industry that has evolved to serve hospitals and health care facilities with the perfect short-term solution for filling necessary positions within their facilities.

Travel nurses enjoy many benefits, some of which are high salaries, housing and traveling expenses, health benefits, and a retirement program, among others. And the solution is working, as some are reporting that 15,000 to 20,000 traveling nurses are used each week in U.S. hospitals.

Author: Travel Nurse Source

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