Trends in Nursing in 2023: Jobs on the Rise, Challenges...

picture of stethoscope heart and 2023
Written by
Miranda Kay, RN
January 16, 2023

The hospitals and clinics need more nurses and help with a compelling shortage. What’s more, the trend is growing.  

The aging population depends on increased and more complex healthcare. Although the total number of licensed registered nurses (RNs) is also growing, healthcare centers need help hiring and retaining enough nurses to meet crucial staffing imperatives. 

The National Library of Medicine states that the country continues to face nursing shortages due to high turnover, restricted nursing program enrollment, and inequitable workforce distribution

Table of Contents

Supply and Demand of Nurses? 

The number of full-time RNs in the workforce is projected to grow substantially, from 3.35 million in 2018 to 4.54 million in 2030.

BLS projects an increase of approximately 203,200 new RN positions each year in this decade. Over one million registered nurses will probably retire from the workforce by 2030, and about 28,000 RNs go on to become NPs each year, building an NP workforce projected to surpass 110,000 by 2025. 

That adds up to a demand for over 3 million more RNs by 2031, compared to the projected increase in the workforce of only around 1.2 million. So, there’s no denying an overwhelming shortage—moreover, the national figures mask gaps where the need is even more acute. 

The distribution or supply of nurses is not uniform or equitable throughout the diverse work settings, areas, and locations, producing gaps in the collection of RNs in Care for the elderly, mental and behavioral healthcare, rural settings, and even direct patient care. Some states, including California, Texas, and New Jersey, project shortfalls of over 100,000 nurses by 2030, while Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Wyoming, and New York project a surplus, leaving gaps in the nursing supply in certain states and cities. Other gaps appear in areas of care.

The Gap in the Care for the Elderly

Relatively few RNs work in long-term care facilities or provide home care. Staffing shortage has forced more than 60% of nursing homes nationwide to limit new patient admissions – leaving these patients in hospitals that need to free up precious beds and preventing seniors from accessing the care they cannot get along without. Some elderly patients, dependent on daily Care, are left in hospitals for months because they have nowhere else to go.

As reported by CNN, in Washington State, 10% of patients in hospital beds are waiting for a space in a nursing home or a mental health facility.

Adults over 65 numbered 54 million in 2021, around 16.5% of the population. The elderly depend on more medical Care — this demographic will only grow in the coming years. For the first time in the history of the United States, by 2034, older adults are projected to outnumber children under age 18, according to the Census Bureau

The Gap in RN Staffing in the Rural Areas

Although the overall rural population has not decreased significantly since 2013, and 2016 started seeing a 0.1 percent population gain in the rural or non-metropolitan areas, the number of nurses working in rural areas diminished from 17 percent in 2005 to 14.4 percent in 2018. This gap in nursing is closely intertwined with a gap in rural healthcare centers. Many rural hospitals operate at a loss, and 171 closed between 2005 and 2020. 

The Gap in Direct Patient Care

The most surprising gap is found in direct patient care. The Becker’s Hospital Review shows that in as little as three years, the United States may have an opening of 200,000 to 450,000 nurses for direct patient care, amounting to a 10 to 20 percent gap.

On average, a safe nurse-patient ratio is one nurse for every five patients. Hospitals that staff 1:8 nurse-to-patient ratios suffer five additional deaths per 1,000 patients than a 1:4 nurse-to-patient ratio.

By determining healthy and acceptable nurse-patient ratios in consultation with the managers, bedside nurses will lead to higher job satisfaction, increased retention rates, and alleviated burnout and the desire to leave their chosen profession. Prudent staffing ratios will also decrease errors and increase patient satisfaction. 

Strengths and Challenges of the Nursing Workforce

The growing numbers of increasingly educated nurses, the provision of basic and advanced specialty care in numerous types of acute care and community-based settings, and the trust they have earned are all outstanding and well-known strengths of the 21st-century nursing workforce. Nevertheless, the entire healthcare system, including the nurses, faces challenges to closing the gaps in caring for the growing elderly population, the under-served sectors and locations, in rural health services, and particularly in direct patient care. To help achieve health equity, these challenges need to be addressed. 

How to Find Nursing Jobs in 2023

Nursa can help you engage in health equity, meeting these compelling challenges and starting to close the gaps by experiencing shifts in diverse settings and finding the area that fits your concern, interests, and character traits.

Blog published on:
January 16, 2023

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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