Why is There a Shortage of Nurses in the United States?


We hear it all the time – there is a shortage of nurses in the United States. However, it seems more and more people are majoring in nursing and competition for nursing jobs is getting harder. Something doesn’t add up. How can there be a shortage of jobs yet so many nurses applying for them? The simple answer is that the country is in a transition period. The nursing workforce is aging, and new nurses are not graduating fast enough to fill the place of retiring nurses. Also, many nurses are competing for the same positions while jobs in critical specialties and regions of the country are being overlooked. That’s the simple answer, but the issue goes much deeper. So, why is there a shortage of nurses in the United States and how can travel nurses help to fill the void?

Why is There a Shortage of Nurses in the United States? Five Explanations

Nurses make up the largest segment of the healthcare workforce with 3 million nurses. Nursing is currently one of the fastest growing occupations in the country. Yet, demand for nurses still outpaces supply. Here are five explanations as to why the nursing shortage remains an issue in America.

Hospitals have more patients

More people have access to health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act passage in 2010. This has led to an increase in people seeking medical care. Some hospitals are expanding the number of beds to meet patient demands and therefore need to hire more nurses.

People are living longer

Not only do hospitals have more patients, but medical technology has advanced to the point that it has enabled people to live longer. This is a major contributor to healthcare facilities having more patients. The number of people over the age of 65 in this country is rapidly increasing. There are more Americans over the age of 65 now than at any other time in the country’s history. It’s predicted that this number will continue to grow, which means more people with health issues and more people in nursing homes.

Increase in outpatient services

There is an increase in outpatient services, such as urgent care centers. This means there are more nursing jobs available outside of the inpatient setting. Nurses can now work in a variety of settings, from traditional hospitals, VA hospitals, nursing homes, home health services, urgent care centers and outpatient healthcare facilities.

Older nurses are retiring

Like many other industries in the country, older workers are retiring. Although thousands of nurses are graduating and entering the workforce, the increasing demand for jobs has it so that the number of new graduates is not pacing with retirees.

Nursing schools can’t keep up

Nursing schools don’t have room for the number of people applying to attend. In fact, nursing schools in the U.S. turned away an estimated 79,659 applications in 2012 because they didn’t have room or budget to support that many students, according to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing report. In addition to the barrier to enter nursing school, there’s also ongoing training required that limits nurses from moving forward in their career fast enough.

There are five explanations to the question, why is there a shortage of nurses in the United States. Now, how can travel nurses help?

How Travel Nurses Can Help Fill Nursing Shortages

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Travel nurses can help fill the nursing shortages by focusing on overlooked specialties, like mental health, and pursuing assignments in rural parts of the country. Travel nurses fill temporary positions at healthcare facilities in all 50 states plus District of Columbia. Many facilities are struggling to retain full-time staff, so travel nurses are the ideal solution. They come in and work for a set amount of time, usually around 13 weeks, which helps out existing staff. As was mentioned in the beginning, many nurses are competing to work in popular destinations and in common specialties, while other places and medical needs are being overlooked. Here are three ways travel nurses can help fill the nursing shortage:

1. Look for positions in rural parts of the country, such as West Virginia travel nursing jobs. Although rural settings may not be as exciting as California or Florida, services are desperately needed in these areas. For example, there are more than 600 jobs in West Virginia available on TravelNurseSource.com.

2. Become certified in unique specialties, such as social care, which are consistently experiencing shortages of nurses.

3. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Although everyone needs to make a certain amount of money or strives for a comfortable lifestyle, don’t forget that nursing is so much more than a job. Nursing is a passion. Show your passion for nursing by taking jobs where nurses are needed the most.

Why is there a shortage of nurses in the United States? Help fill the shortage of nurses in critical locations and apply online now for travel nursing jobs!

Author: Lenay Ruhl

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