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Contributing Factors to the Nursing Shortage

  1. Decline in student enrollment
    "Schools of nursing are reporting a decline in student enrollment. Enrollment in entry level baccalaureate programs in nursing increased by 8% nationwide since the fall of 2001. Despite this increase, enrollment is still down by almost 10% or 11,584 students from 1995. On average over the last 5 years, the number of graduates declined by 1,030 each year."

  2. Shortage of nursing school faculty
    "According to a survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 38.8% of schools who responded pointed to faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into entry level baccalaureat programs."

    "According to a study released by the Southern Regional Board of Education (SREB) in February 2002, a serious shortage of nursing faculty was documented in 16 SREB states and the District of Columbia. Survey findings show a 12% decrease in the number of nurse educators as a result of resignations, retirements and the shortage of student candidates for faculty role."

  3. Average age of the RN is climbing
    "The average age of the working registered nurse was 43.3 in March 2000, up from 42.3 in 1996. The RN population under the age of 30 dropped from 25.1% of the nursing population in 1980 to 9.1% in 2000."

    "According to a July 2001 report released by the Government Accounting Office, 40% of all RNs will be older than age 50 by the year 2010."

  4. Slow Growth of RN Population
    "The total population of registered nurses is growing at the slowest rate in 20 years. The total RN population increased from 2,558,874 in 1996 to 2,696,540 in 2000. Of the total RN population in 2000, an estimated 58.5% work full time in nursing, 23.2% work part time, and 18.3 are not employed in nursing."

  5. Changing demographics
    "The future demand for nurses is expected to increase dramatically as the baby boomers reach their 60's, 70's and beyond."


    "The ratio of potential caregivers to the people most likely to need care, the elderly population, will decrease by 40% between 2010 and 2030."

    Failure to retain nurses contributes to avoidable patient deaths.

  6. Job burnout and dissatisfaction
    "According to a study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association in October 2002, nurses reported greater job dissatisfaction and Emotional exhaustion when they were responsible for more patients than they can safely care for. "Failure to retain nurses contributes to avoidable patient deaths" according to Dr. Linda Aiken."

    "According to a study published by Dr. Linda Aiken and colleagues in May/June 2001, more than 40% of nurses working in hospitals reported being dissatisfied with their jobs. The study indicates that 1 out of every 3 hospital nurses under the age of 30 are planning to leave their current job in the next year."

    "According to a study commissioned by the Federation of Nursed and Health Professionals in April 2001, 1 out of evry 5 nurses currently working is considering leaving the patient care field for reasons other than retirement within the next five years."

    Staffing shortages are contributing to emergency department overcrowding and the need to close beds

  7. High nurse turnover
    "The average nurse vacancy rate in U.S. hospitals was 13%. Over one in seven hospitals reported a severe RN vacancy rate of more than 20%. Survey respondents indicated that a shortage of personnel is contributing to emergency department overcrowding and ambulance diversions."

    "According to a report released in January 2002 by the Americal Organization of Nurse Executives, the average RN turnover rate was 10.2% with the highest rates found in critical care units (14.6%) and medical surgical care (14.1%). Nurse executives surveyed indicated that staffing shortages are contributing to emergency department overcrowding (51%) and the need to close beds (25%)."



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