Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Nursing Supply-And-Demand Fun Facts

Yes Virginia, there is a nursing shortage.

"According to a report released by the American Hospital Association in April 2006, U.S. hospitals need approximately 118,000 RNs to fill vacant positions nationwide. This translates into a national RN vacancy rate of 8.5%. The report, titled The State of America's Hospitals - Taking the Pulse, also found that 49% of hospital CEOs had more difficulty recruiting RNs in 2005 than in 2004. "

Unfortunately, the miraculous benevolent invisible hand of the magical-fairy free market has not answered this concern with the corresponding increase in supply as predicted by the obviously stupid and incorrect "law of supply and demand" that you heard about between naps at school. As a matter of fact, it's getting worse.

Here's a few reasons why:

*High job turnover rates:

"Nursing turnover in Arizona is 26%, compared with a nationwide rate of 15% annually (Mercer, 1999). According to the Healthcare Advisory Board (1999), the cost of replacing an RN is $42,000, so the cost of such a large turnover rate statewide is enormous.'

*A general nationwide shortage, affecting all nursing specialties.

*Nurses getting older on average and aging out of the system:

"In March 2004, the average age of the RN population was estimated to be 46.8 years of age, more than a year older than the average age of 45.2 years estimated in 2000; and more than 4 years greater than in 1996 when the average age was 42.3 years."

*Demand for nurses continues to rise.

Changing demographics and general population growth and influx of people from other countries is profoundly affecting hospital budgets everywhere in America.

*Not enough nurse educators:

"To make matters worse, the lack of teachers has meant more nursing school applicants being turned away -- despite a nationwide shortage of nurses -- because nursing schools don't have enough faculty to teach them, according to a May 2003 report by the AACN."

*And of course, money:

" When adjusted for inflation, the average salary for US nurses has not increased since 1992 (HRSA Division of Nursing, 2001)."

Naturally, it's a little worse in some places than it is in others. Here in The Valley where I work, live, play, and blog; for example, the nursing shortage is running a little tighter than the national average.

"The nursing shortage in Arizona is projected to increase to 25 percent in 2010 from 17 percent in 2000, according to the Arizona Nurses Association. The reason is simple. Nursing schools have not been able to keep pace with Arizona's burgeoning population, especially the enormous growth in the number of senior citizens. The population boom has forced hospitals and other health providers to build $2 billion worth of projects and renovations. There aren't enough nurses to work in the new facilities."

Law of supply and demand. What a load of crap. If you still believe in that sort of thing, then bring your own nurse with you the next time you or a dearly beloved family member has to go to the local emergency department or hospital. In the meantime, think very seriously about what you're going to do about this problem.

Me? I went to nursing school.


may said...

you are so right about this, and so right about the coffee :)

Mitz said...

I went to nursing school, too - in 1965. I have 1,034 working days to Medicare. I have spinal stenosis, DJD and two herniated discs - all cause constant pain. I never had a pension until the company I'm with now started a 401K. I've worked full time for almost 40 years and I'm tired but I'm afraid of the nurse who will care for me - probably a "patient-care-tech".

Should have gone into teaching - would be retired now with partial salary and healthcare benefits.

Amy said...

I'm one of those nurses who benefitted from the nursing shortage in the sense that I had my pick of jobs and lots of room to negotiate a salary when I graduated (in 2000). Unfortunately, I've also experienced the downside in the sense that when I was working in hospitals, I was constantly being asked (and in some hospitals, mandated) to work overtime, and worked in conditions I would consider unsafe (ten telemetry patients per nurse is an unsafe ratio at any time of day or night). I won't say that these are the factors that caused me to leave patient care, but it was certainly a factor in my decision. The good news is that now that I'm one of those oh-so loved "paper nurses" I have enough time in my life to go back to school so that I can finish my Master's and fulfill my lifelong dream of teaching. (It's a Circle of Life kind of thing...)

NocturnalRN said...

Yeah, there must really be one over there. There are always hundreds of travel assignments out there. Will you stay a nurse?