THE NURSING SHORTAGE: THE UNEXPECTED GAP
For those of us in the staffing agency world, the market’s nursing shortage affects the work we do every single day. We can live with it, however. The greater concern is that patients across the country may not be getting the services they deserve simply because compassionate, talented nurses are stretched too thin and their numbers are too few.
It’s time to up our nursing numbers.
But while we normally think of ways to encourage new people to enter the profession when encountering a professional staffing shortage, that may not be the problem in this case. When it comes to nursing, there's no shortage of wanting applicants, there simply aren't enough people to teach them.
Estimates forecast the nation’s nursing population today at about 3 million; however, it is expected we will need 1 million more nurses by 2022, according to the American Nurses Association. That is not to mention the nurses we will need to replace those who will retire in that time.
Yes, the demand is great, but the pipeline hits a bottleneck between eager applicants and wanting facilities. There simply isn’t the academic infrastructure to bring sufficient nurses through to match demand.
Additional research from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing shows that nursing schools turned away as many as 56,000 qualified nursing school applicants in 2017 simply because of a lack of openings. In addition, this same data shows schools have turned away roughly 30,000 qualified applicants each of the last 10 years for the same reason.
While willing student applicants are numerous, finding teachers to teach them is another matter. The national vacancy rate for educators in this area currently sits at around 7 percent, a high number compared to similar roles. Many would-be teachers report abandoning teaching opportunities for the better pay available putting their skills to use in the workforce.
Despite the struggles nursing schools face across the country, there is hope. Many institutions report they are expanding their schools to accommodate more students and meet the industry demand. At OneStaff, we’d love to see this expansion take place as quickly and effectively as possible. Patients everywhere are depending on it.