Over the years there has been a great nursing shortage or rather a great demand for nursing professionals which surpasses the current supply locally, nationally or globally. This is backed by national surveys from the Bureau of the Census, National Council of State Boards of Nursing, American Hospital Association and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It is notable that the nursing service or profession is well diversified in order to meet a wide spectrum of health and needs. In the US there are core types of nurses Licensed Practical nurses or LPNs, Registered Nurses or RNs and Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). This paper will dwell on the registered nurses demand and supply in the US medical facilities.
The National demand of registered nurses was approximated to be 2 million while the supply was estimated to be 1.89 million in the year 2000 (a 6 % shortage or 1110,000 in number). Based on the trends in supply of registered nurses and expected demand, the shortage is said to have reached 12%.It is at this point that the demand has exceeded the supply at an increasing rate and by 2015 the year 2000 6 % shortage will have most almost accelerated to 20%. According to this survey the shortage is expected to reach 30% by the year 2020 (Bureau of Health Professions, 2002).
The projected shortage in the year 2020 is based on a 40 % increase in demand between the year 2000 and 2020 in comparison to a projected growth of 6 % supply. The demand has been approximated at 1.7 % annually according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (Bureau of Health Professions, 2002).
The increase in demand of the registered nurse services as indicated by the statistics is mainly hinged in the increase of population, a larger section being the elderly and medical advanced procedures that create need for nurses. The supply on the other hand is mainly affected by the number of nurses switching careers, decline of nursing graduates, number of aging/ retiring registered nurses, and decline in registered nurses relative earnings. The distribution of the registered nurses shortage is not evenly distributed across the states. In the year 2000 30 states were estimated to experience shortages but by 2020 the number is projected to rise to 44 (Bureau of Health Professions, 2002). This shortage current falls at 12 %. The shortage is determined by the play of factors of supply and demand in the US health sector. It is these variables that also influence the projections in demand, supply and shortage of the nursing services offered by registered nurses across the different states in America.
The projected demand of the registered nurses has several driving forces and trends as stated earlier. The changes in the American demography have had a tremendous impact on the demand for the services of the registered nurses. The American demography is defined by a high growth rate of 12.8% of the aged population that is vulnerable and requires much nursing care (Tellez, 2007). The medical advances in healthcare payment systems and healthcare regulations are also other dominant forces and factors that fuel the demand for registered nurses (Feldstein, 2012). Health care providers rely much on the registered nurses to avail majority of the direct patient care. The registered nurses are instrumental in assessing these patients, developing patient care plans, testing, provision of medical treatments, planning for discharges, teaching patients and their kin on how to provide care, and keep health and nursing records.
The supply for services by registered nurses on the other hand is premised on the salaries, number of nursing school graduates, emergence of alternative opportunities and the aging of the registered nursing personnel (Feldstein, 2012). The salaries as a factor in the declining supply of registered nurses are of great concern to many health providers. The actual earnings have steadily increased but the real earnings have relatively been flat despite the US and global inflation. On the average many registered nurses since 2000 have had no increase in purchasing power, this is in comparison to other professions such as elementary school teaching.
The number of nursing graduates has also been on the decline due to the stigma and stereotypes associated with this profession. Many students feel that nursing is a demeaning profession that requires a lot of commitment. The emergences of alternative opportunities also have impacted on the supply levels of the registered nursing services in health facilities (Tellez, 2007). Many nurses are opting to take other career paths rather than dwelling in the healthcare platforms. The aging of the registered nursing personnel is another issue factor that is core in determining supply levels of this service across the US. The average age of registered nurses has increased steadily in the recent decade resulting in a greater section of nurses in the old age brackets nearing retirement age.
The projected registered nursing shortages can be addressed by focusing on the registered nurses labor market pool. The labor markets for registered nurses are not generally national scope. In some states and counties there are few employers and these employers might have a high degree of control over the local labor market (Tellez, 2007). The Bureau of Labor statistics notes that approximately 2.7b million registered nurses are employed across the U.S. This is however less compared to the demand soaring each year across the country. The federal and state governments should review their labor policies by reducing bottlenecks in the registration of nurses.
The immigration policies should be reviewed in order to tap the global labor force in order to supplement the authentic American registered nursing services offered. The non-immigrant visa policy should be effected fully in order for more immigrant registered nurses to be availed into the US labor market (Tellez, 2007). It is notable that outsourcing as an economic option is cost friendly in the global economy thus the health service providers can able to manage the nursing shortage in their facilities. The immigrants will be instrumental in capping the supply outflow brought about by retirees and those that decide to switch careers.
The labor market earnings should be reviewed as the registered nurses market wage is an important labor market condition. The concerned authorities should factor in inflation, cost of living and economic downturns in reviewing the market wages of the registered nurses in order to manage the registered nursing shortage (Feldstein, 2012). The health providers should also implement effective health financing mechanisms that will ensure that more funds are available to meet the labor poor market wages at competitive rates. More reliance on health insurance funding rather than out-of-the-pocket expenditure will allow such facilities to meet the necessary wage demands.
Bureau of Health Professions (2002). Projected Supply, Demand, and Shortages of Registered Nurses: 2000-2020.
Feldstein, P. J. (2012). Health care economics. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning.
Tellez. S., University of California, S., & University of California, S. (2007). Do wages matter? An econometric analysis of the nurse labor participation in California. (Dissertation Abstracts International, 68-7.