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About the Nursing Shortage

Nursing Shortage Fact Sheet

AACN Releases Data on 2018 Nursing School Enrollments

Nursing Faculty Shortage Fact Sheet

Impact of the Economy on the Nurse Faculty Shortage

State Nursing Workforce Reports


  • AACN Talking Points on HRSA Report on Nursing Workforce Projections through 2025
    In December 2014, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) released a report titled The Future of the Nursing Workforce: National- and State-Level Projections, 2012-2025. Using the federal government’s Health Workforce Simulation Model, HRSA found that the supply of Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) in the U.S. will more than meet the projected demand over the next 10 years. In addition to finding a distributional imbalance of nurses at the state level, the authors concede that the national projections may be confounded by a number of factors, including the expanding roles for nurses, population growth, and an aging nursing workforce.

  • AACN Talking Points on Health Affairs Article on Registered Nurse Supply
    Working with co-author Dr. Peter Buerhaus, AACN developed talking points to help clarify some of the issues raised in a recent Health Affairs article about a younger cohort of nurses entering the profession and what this means in relation to the nursing shortage.

  • Monthly Labor Review
    According to the latest projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published in the November 2009 Monthly Labor Review, more than 581,500 new nursing positions will be created through 2018 (a 22.2% increase), making nursing the nation's top profession in terms of projected job growth.

  • Education Policy Initiatives to Address the Nursing Shortage in the United States
    In the July/August 2009 issue of Health Affairs, Dr. Linda Aiken and colleagues from the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at University of Pennsylvania call for adapting federal funding mechanisms (i.e. Title VIII and Medicare) to focus on preparing more nurses at the baccalaureate and higher degree levels. This policy emphasis is needed to adequately address the growing need for faculty and nurses to serve in primary care and other advanced practice roles. The researchers reported that new nurses prepared in BSN programs are significantly more likely to complete the graduate level education needed to fill nursing positions where job growth is expected to be the greatest.

  • The Recent Surge In Nurse Employment: Causes And Implications
    In the July/August 2009 Health Affairs, Dr. Peter Buerhaus and coauthors found that despite the current easing of the nursing shortage due to the recession, the U.S. nursing shortage is projected to grow to 260,000 registered nurses by 2025. A shortage of this magnitude would be twice as large as any nursing shortage experienced in this country since the mid-1960s. The researchers point to a rapidly aging workforce as a primary contributor to the projected shortage. Because RNs over age 50 will soon be the largest age group in the nursing workforce, their retirement over the next decade will lead to a projected shortfall developing by 2018.

  • Impact of the Economy on the Nursing Shortage
    In March 2009, AACN issued a set of talking points explaining how the downturn in the U.S. economy has resulted in the stabilizing of the nursing workforce in some parts of the country. This document describes the short-term easing of the shortage, looks at the current and future need for nurses, and offers advice for new nursing school graduates.

  • The Future of the Nursing Workforce in the United States: Data, Trends and Implications
    The shortage of registered nurses in the U.S. could reach as high as 500,000 by 2025 according to a report released in March 2008 by Dr. Peter Buerhaus of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Dr. Douglas Staiger of Dartmouth University, and Dr. David Auerbach of the Congressional Budget Office. The report, found that the demand for RNs is expected to grow by 2% to 3% each year.

  • Newly Licensed RNs' Characteristics, Work Attitudes, and Intentions to Work
    In September 2007, Dr. Christine T. Kovner and colleagues found that 13% of newly licensed RNs had changed principal jobs after one year, and 37% reported that they felt ready to change jobs. Published in the American Journal of Nursing, the nurse researchers provide insights into the characteristics and attitudes toward work of new registered nurses.

  • The 2007 State of America's Hospitals – Taking the Pulse 
    According to a report released by the American Hospital Association in July 2007, U.S. hospitals need approximately 116,000 registered nurses (RNs) to fill vacant positions nationwide. This translates into a national RN vacancy rate of 8.1%. The report also found that 44% of hospital CEOs had more difficulty recruiting RNs in 2006 than in 2005.

  • Academic Health Center CEOs Say Faculty Shortages Major Problem
    Worsening faculty shortages in academic health centers are threatening the nation's health professions educational infrastructure, according to a report by the Association of Academic Health Centers released in July 2007. Survey data show that 94% of academic health center CEOs believe that faculty shortages are a problem in at least one health professions school, and 69% think that these shortages are a problem for the entire institution. The majority of CEOs identified the shortage of nurse faculty as the most severe followed by allied health, pharmacy and medicine.

  • What Works: Healing the Healthcare Staffing Shortage
    In July 2007, PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute released a report titled What Works: Healing the Healthcare Staffing Shortage which advanced several strategies for addressing the nursing shortage, including developing more public-private partnerships, creating healthy work environments, using technology as a training tool, and designing more flexible roles for advanced practice nurses given their increased use as primary care providers.

  • Hospitals' Responses to Nurse Staffing Shortages
    In an article published in the June 2006 issue of Health Affairs titled "Hospitals' Responses to Nurse Staffing Shortages," the authors found that 97% of surveyed hospitals were using educational strategies to address the shortage of nurses. Specific strategies include partnering with schools of nursing, subsidizing nurse faculty salaries, reimbursing nurses for advancing their education in exchange for a work commitment, and providing scheduling flexibility to enable staff to attend classes. The paper ends with a call for more public financing support for the nursing educational system to expand student capacity.

  • What is Behind HRSA's Projected Supply, Demand, and Shortage of Registered Nurses?
    Released in April 2006 by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), federal officials project the nation's nursing shortage will intensify with more than one million new nurses by the year 2020. By the year 2015, all 50 states will experience a shortage of nurses to varying degrees.

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