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Report Archives on the Nursing Shortage

State of the Registered Nurse Workforce in the United States
Published in the March 2006 issue of Nursing Economic$, this comprehensive analysis of several national surveys of the nursing workforce found that majority of nurses reported that the RN shortage is negatively impacting patient care and undermining the quality of care goals set by the Institute of Medicine and the National Quality Forum. Though many nurses have reported an easing of the nursing shortage over the past few years, the shortage is expected to grow to eight times the current size by the year 2020.

Act Now for Your Tomorrow
In May 2005, the National Commission on Nursing Workforce for Long-Term Care released this report which found that there are nearly 100,000 vacant nursing positions in long-term care facilities on any given day, and the nurse turnover rate exceeds 50%. The shortage is costing long-term care facilities an estimated $4 billion a year in recruitment and training expenses.

New Signs of a Strengthening U.S. Nurse Labor Market?
According to a report published in November 2004 as a Web exclusive for Health Affairs, Dr. Peter Buerhaus and colleagues found that "despite the increase in employment of nearly 185,000 hospital RNs since 2001, there is no empirical evidence that the nursing shortage has ended. To the contrary, national surveys of RNs and physicians conducted in 2004 found that a clear majority of RNs (82%) and doctors (81%) perceived shortages where they worked."

Is the Current Shortage of Hospital Nurses Ending?
In the November/December 2003 issue of Health Affairs, Dr. Peter Buerhaus from Vanderbilt University and his colleagues found that over 100,000 new RNs were hired in 2002; the majority of which were foreign-born nurses and nurses over age 50 returning to the workforce in tough economic times. Though the new hires and a sharp increase in RN salaries are having a positive effect on the current workforce supply, Dr. Buerhaus cautions that the current nursing shortage is far from over and called for immediate federal attention to address the growing crisis, including setting national goals for annual nursing school enrollment increases.

Health Care at the Crossroads: Strategies for Addressing the Evolving Nursing Crisis
Released in August 2002 by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, this report illustrates how the growing shortage of nurses in America's hospitals is putting patient lives in danger. The solutions proposed by a special Joint Commission Expert Roundtable focus on transforming the nursing workplace; creating a clinical foundation for nursing educational preparation and advancement; and providing financial incentives for health care organizations to invest in high quality nursing care.

Health Care's Human Crisis: The American Nursing Shortage
This report, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, offers recommendations for turning around the critical nursing shortage. Findings from the study, released in May 2002, also illustrate why the current situation is fundamentally different from nursing shortages in the past.

Better Late Than Never: Workforce Supply Implications of Late Entry into Nursing
In the January/February 2007 issue of Health Affairs, Dr. David I. Auerbach and colleagues estimated that the U.S. shortage of registered nurses (RNs) will increase to 340,000 by the year 2020. Though this is significantly less than earlier projections for a shortfall of 800,000 RNs which was made back in 2000, the study authors note that the nursing shortage is still expected to increase by three times the current rate over the next 13 years.

Projected Supply, Demand, and Shortages of Registered Nurses: 2000-2020
Released in July 2002, this HRSA report found that the nursing shortage will deepen because increasing numbers of nurses are retiring while too few are entering the profession. Though 30 states experienced nursing shortages in 2000, the report indicates that the crisis will intensify with 44 states plus the District of Columbia expected to have RN shortages by the year 2020.

Who Will Care for Each of Us? America's Coming Health Care Crisis
Report on The Future of the Health Care Labor Force in a Graying Society was prepared by the Nursing Institute of the University of Illinois at Chicago, released in May 2001.

Nursing Workforce: Emerging Nurse Shortages Due to Multiple Factors
GAO Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Health, Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, released in July 2001.

The Hospital Workforce Shortage: Immediate and Future
American Hospital Association June 2001 Trend Watch