According to a new study, published today in Health Affairs (abstract), the shortage of nurses is shrinking. The bad news is that the shortage has shrunk from an estimated 760,000 nurses to "just" 340,000. The reason for the lessening of the gap is that more people are entering the profession in their late 20s and early 30s. Vanderbilt University Medical Center professor Peter Buerhaus, who was a researcher in the study, says 80 percent of the improvement can be attributed to
growth from those who chose nursing after starting a career in another
The study, "Better Late than Never: Workforce Supply Implications
of Later Entry into Nursing," also addresses the concern over the aging
workforce. The current average age of registered nurses is 43.5 years
and it's projected to be 44.9 years by 2016.
"While more older people are attracted to nursing, the number of
people entering nursing in their early to mid 20s remains at its lowest
point in 40 years," said Dartmouth College Economics Professor and
study researcher Douglas Staiger in a release about the study.
We're far from out of the woods yet, but this is progress.