America's Nursing Shortage by the Numbers

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By 2020, the U.S. government predicts that America’s nursing shortage will be between 800,000 and one million nurses.

By 2020, the U.S. government predicts that it will be short between 800,000 and one million nurses. (Close to 117,000 short in California alone.)

Before that – 2015 – the U.S. Department of Health projects that 400,000 new nurses will be needed just to fill vacancies left by retirees.

soliant-nurse-shortage

supply_demand_2010_2020_nursing_shortage_america_soliantThe problems

While lucrative incentives are being offered for Americans to enter nursing college and for existing nurses to go back to school to become nursing college faculty, a longer-living, less-healthy population is already starting to weigh on the American healthcare system.

The up-side

Already strained by an out-of-control deficit of trained nurses, stressful shifts for the nurses who are holding down the fort, and – unbeknownst to many – a shortage of teachers to open-up class sizes at nursing colleges, the deal has never been sweeter for anyone with the smarts to make the grade.

The trouble spots

per_capita_state_nursing_shortage_america_soliant
Not surprisingly, Alaska has the largest nursing shortfall as a percentage of nursing positions left vacant: Beautiful as the endless summers and Northern Lights of the winter are, not every nurse wants to make the trek up to the 49th state: Only 58 percent of nursing positions there are currently filled…And a paltry 40 per cent are expected to be filled in 2015.

More surprisingly, Hawaii is also facing one of the nation’s highest vacancy rates for nursing positions. So too is Connecticut.

Overall, California is short the largest number of overall nurses: nearly 48,000 right now, a projected 81,000 in 2015 and as many as 116,600 by 2020.

Not far behind those numbers are Florida and – to a lesser extent – Georgia and New Jersey.

Flaws in the data

What’s even more troubling is that state-level data on the nursing shortage isn’t even accurate all the time: Vermont used government-gathered data to plan ahead, thought they had all the nurses they needed, and ended up with a sizable shortage (PDF).

The numbers are daunting; For example, in order to meet the projected future health care needs of the state, New Jersey needs to triple the annual number of nursing school graduates from 2000 per year to 6,000 per year.

What are the solutions?

Government studies have proposed everything from asking existing nurses to delay retirement for up to four years, increasing the number of nursing college teaching staff, and inviting more nurses from other countries to fill vacant jobs.

Projected FTE RN Supply under Alternative Wage Growth Scenarios

But perhaps most interesting option for anyone considering a career in nursing is a government study that explores the notion of raising nursing salaries nationwide an additional 1-3 per cent. Such a move would theoretically increase the number of people graduating from nursing college, though still not quite enough to meet demand.

A silver lining, if you’re interested…pay_increase_scenario_nursing_shortage_america_soliant

Thanks to upcoming recruitment and retention programs as well as a number of educational incentives, becoming a nurse in America over the next few years will likely be cheaper than is has been in a while, and working as a nurse will likely be more lucrative than its ever been.

If undecided college-bound teens are up for it, they may just find the recession-proof jobs they’ve been looking for.
(Interested in seeing what states have the highest demand? Take a look at the projected numbers below…)

State-by-state numbers:

RN supply and demand, 2010 and 2015
(Yellow highlighting denotes largest supply gaps by %
Green highlighting denotes largest overall supply gaps by number)

State

2010

2015

Supply

Demand

Supply – Demand

Supply ÷ Demand

Supply

Demand

Supply – Demand

Supply ÷
Demand

AK

3,200

5,500

-2,300

58%

2,500

6,100

-3,600

41%

AL

36,600

36,800

-200

99%

38,200

40,300

-2,100

95%

AR

19,300

22,000

-2,700

88%

19,800

24,300

-4,500

81%

AZ

30,700

43,200

-12,500

71%

30,500

48,500

-18,000

63%

CA

153,300

200,900

-47,600

76%

148,200

228,900

-80,700

65%

CO

27,200

38,100

-10,900

71%

25,100

42,500

-17,400

59%

CT

22,900

34,000

-11,100

67%

19,900

36,600

-16,700

54%

DC

6,500

9,500

-3,000

68%

5,900

10,200

-4,300

58%

DE

6,300

7,600

-1,300

83%

6,100

8,100

-2,000

75%

FL

112,000

144,700

-32,700

77%

110,200

164,300

-54,100

67%

GA

48,200

64,600

-16,400

75%

45,300

71,600

-26,300

63%

HI

7,900

12,400

-4,500

64%

8,100

13,900

-5,800

58%

IA

26,600

30,000

-3,400

89%

26,000

31,800

-5,800

82%

ID

7,400

8,200

-800

90%

7,300

9,200

-1,900

79%

IL

85,600

94,900

-9,300

90%

81,900

101,300

-19,400

81%

IN

41,600

49,800

-8,200

84%

40,400

53,500

-13,100

76%

KS

22,100

23,100

-1,000

96%

21,800

24,900

-3,100

88%

KY

34,700

33,500

1,200

104%

35,500

36,300

-800

98%

LA

37,200

37,100

100

100%

39,100

40,600

-1,500

96%

MA

60,100

76,200

-16,100

79%

56,000

81,700

-25,700

69%

MD

35,600

42,600

-7,000

84%

33,800

46,100

-12,300

73%

ME

11,600

14,100

-2,500

82%

11,100

15,300

-4,200

73%

MI

72,000

75,100

-3,100

96%

68,900

79,600

-10,700

87%

MN

41,800

46,200

-4,400

90%

41,200

50,400

-9,200

82%

MO

45,700

58,600

-12,900

78%

44,200

63,100

-18,900

70%

MS

22,600

23,100

-500

98%

23,600

25,400

-1,800

93%

MT

6,500

7,000

-500

93%

6,300

7,800

-1,500

81%

NC

67,400

75,500

-8,100

89%

68,600

83,700

-15,100

82%

ND

5,800

6,700

-900

87%

5,800

7,300

-1,500

79%

NE

14,700

17,100

-2,400

86%

14,900

18,500

-3,600

81%

NH

9,300

12,600

-3,300

74%

8,800

13,800

-5,000

64%

NJ

55,000

74,600

-19,600

74%

50,500

80,400

-29,900

63%

NM

11,000

14,100

-3,100

78%

11,300

15,900

-4,600

71%

NV

9,200

13,300

-4,100

69%

8,700

14,700

-6,000

59%

NY

142,300

163,800

-21,500

87%

137,400

174,000

-36,600

79%

OH

88,900

101,000

-12,100

88%

85,500

107,300

-21,800

80%

OK

21,500

22,000

-500

98%

22,100

24,300

-2,200

91%

OR

22,400

27,700

-5,300

81%

21,100

31,100

-10,000

68%

PA

99,200

120,300

-21,100

82%

90,600

127,200

-36,600

71%

RI

9,000

12,000

-3,000

75%

8,400

12,800

-4,400

66%

SC

25,900

31,100

-5,200

83%

26,200

34,400

-8,200

76%

SD

7,900

8,100

-200

98%

7,900

8,700

-800

91%

TN

42,800

61,300

-18,500

70%

41,800

67,800

-26,000

62%

TX

118,700

160,600

-41,900

74%

119,000

179,900

-60,900

66%

UT

14,100

15,600

-1,500

90%

14,900

17,500

-2,600

85%

VA

47,600

58,600

-11,000

81%

46,300

64,300

-18,000

72%

VT

4,800

5,400

-600

89%

4,400

5,800

-1,400

76%

WA

37,300

46,100

-8,800

81%

35,100

52,100

-17,000

67%

WI

43,300

42,800

500

101%

42,200

46,300

-4,100

91%

WV

14,600

13,900

700

105%

14,600

14,700

-100

99%

WY

3,300

4,500

-1,200

73%

3,300

5,100

-1,800

65%

U.S.a

1,941,200

2,347,000

-405,800

83%

1,886,100

2,569,800

-683,700

73%

a Due to rounding, national totals might fail to equal the sum across states.

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