How Nursing Shortages Create a High Demand for RNs

picture of RNs in high demand for per diem jobs
Written by
Miranda Kay, RN
January 14, 2020

It's no secret that getting a college education in the U.S. can have you emerging with your diploma in one hand and a big ball and chain of debt around your other hand. Young adults often take out student loans to cover the cost of tuition, books, and sometimes even for housing and food costs.

If you are considering a career in nursing, you may be wondering, "am I going to be able to pay back my student loans". The answer is a definite "yes". If you go into the field of nursing, there is no doubt that you will be able to find a job. There's never been a better time than now to get into the nursing profession, and I am going to tell you why.

Aging Generation Creates Demand for More Healthcare Services

The baby boomers are aging. According to an article written by James R Knickman and Emily K. Snell in the Health Services Research Journal titled, "The 2030 Problem: Caring for Aging Baby Boomers":

"A major public policy concern in the long-term care field is the potential burden an aging society will place on the care-giving system and public finances. Much of this growth will be prompted by the aging of the Baby Boomers, who in 2030 will be aged 66 to 84—the 'young old'—and will number 61 million people. In addition to the Baby Boomers, those born prior to 1946—the 'oldest old'—will number 9million people in 2030."

This also means jobs for nurses will be plentiful because nurses are such an integral part of providing healthcare today.

This phenomenon of such a huge part of the U.S. population requiring increasing medical care is on its own enough to prompt numerous articles written in nursing industry news outlets and journals. Studies are being conducted, and policies formed and written to address the issue and find ways to ensure healthcare is affordable and accessible.

Nurses are Aging, Too and Many Will Retire Soon

Additionally, consider the fact that a large number of those baby boomers, are nurses themselves. According to the American Nursing Association (ANA), in the year 1977, an estimated 1,055,400 nurses were employed in the field of nursing. These nurses were mostly, part of the baby boomer generation. What do we know now, about the baby boomer generation? We know that they have reached and are reaching retirement age. That's right. The baby boomer nurses are retiring.

According to Health Affairs:

" The number of boomer RNs peaked at 1.26 million in 2008. Since 2012, roughly 60,000 RNs exited the workforce each year, and by the end of the decade more than 70,000 RNs will be retiring annually. In 2020, baby-boomer RNs will number 660,000, roughly half their 2008 peak."

What does this mean for you, a newbie nurse, or a person considering this as a career option? Simply put, this means employment. This means job vacancies. Career advancement opportunities. A career that matters. A job that can take you anywhere in the country. A role that our nation needs. Let's break that down a bit, shall we?

Nursing Employment Opportunities Abound

  • Employment: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected growth for the field of nursing of 12% through the year 2028. According to them, the median annual salary for RNs in 2018 was $71,730, and there were over three million RN jobs in the year 2018. Nursing news outlets continually report on trends and job opportunities in the field.
  • Vacancies: A quick job search will show you just how easy it can be to find a job near you. In fact, travel nursing has become an increasingly popular way for hospitals and health facilities to fill their vacancies. Travel nurses work on a contractual basis, typically short-term. Travel nurses with Elite Specialty Staffing can expect their assignments to vary in length from eight to 26 weeks.
  • Career advancement opportunities: As medicine and technology advance, so do nurses. Nurses are increasingly looking to specialize as a way to further their career and find job satisfaction by working in a niche that they can be passionate about. Here is a very long and detailed list of available specialties for nurses. What stands out to you? Take some time to research the specialties, some require certifications, others may not require certifications but may be specializations that require certain experience as building blocks. The field of nursing is vast and varied. The opportunities are there. Don't let that overwhelm you, instead take solace in them. They mean that if you find yourself tiring of the position or specialty you are in, you can work towards a different one. It is your career, and you can build it to be what you want.
  • A career that can take you anywhere in the country: With the wave of experienced nurses retiring, advanced positions in numerous specialties will have vacancies to fill. You won't have to stay in an entry-level position for long. Openings in your home-area will be plentiful, and if you can't find an opening for a career-building position you want, consider becoming a travel nurse for a time. Travel nurses can build their careers because they are willing to go wherever the position is that interests them. These are short-term assignments, but what better way to gain the necessary experience and knowledge for a career, than by going and doing.
  • A career that matters and is needed: If the statistics I've shared aren't enough for you to understand the seriousness of the nursing shortage, then consider more how integral the role of nursing is to our nation's healthcare system. Nurses provide direct patient care by administering medications; monitoring and assisting before, during and after medical procedures; evaluating the mental and physical needs of patients; providing support, guidance, and education to patients on promoting healing and preventative care. Honestly, the list can go on and on.

What do you think? Is nursing the type of career that appeals to you? Are you a nurse already? Whether you are looking at options for travel nursing assignments because you want to become a nurse one day or if you're searching for your next travel nursing contract - we want to hear from you! Call us today at 208-378-1338.

Miranda Kay, RN
Blog published on:
January 14, 2020

Miranda is a Registered Nurse, Medical Fact Checker, and Publishing Editor at Nursa. Her work has been featured in publications including the American Nurses Association (ANA), Healthcare IT Outcomes, International Living, and more.

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