Nursing is a healthcare profession focused on caring for individuals, families, and communities. Nurses help patients attain, maintain, or recover their health. Nursing is vital to our healthcare system, and recent years have illustrated how critical it is that healthcare jobs are filled. The courage and commitment of nurses and medical assistants all over the world was illuminated during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also became clear that the healthcare system needed more people in more positions. The U.S. is currently facing a nursing shortage; the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that nearly 6 million more nurses will be needed by 2030 to deliver the higher standards of healthcare needed after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Nursing is the largest occupational group in the healthcare sector, and accounts for roughly 59% of all health professions according to the WHO. Currently, there are just under 28 million nurses worldwide, which is about 5.9 million short of what the WHO reports are needed to care for the growing population in medical facilities. While 2022 isn’t the only time in history that we’ve faced a healthcare labor shortage, the pandemic has exacerbated the need- especially in the United States.
There are a few key contributing factors to the labor shortage in U.S. healthcare. First and foremost, an aging baby boomer population has increased the number of patients receiving more intense care and for longer periods of time. The demographic for those 65 and older has grown rapidly in recent years, increasing from 41 million people in 2011 to 71 million in 2019; the U.S. Census Bureau has estimated that number will reach 73 million by 2030. In a 2021 East Tennessee State University article, Dr. Lisa Haddad writes, “Older persons do not typically have one morbidity that they are dealing with, but more often have many diagnoses and comorbidities that require them to seek treatment. The population is surviving longer, as a whole, causing an increased use of health services as well. Many disease processes that were once terminal are now survivable for the long-term. Treating these long-term illnesses can strain the workforce.” With more access to better healthcare, the timeframe for senior patients to require age-related care increases, adding pressure onto the healthcare system and those working in it.
In addition to an aging patient population, the caretaking population is aging as well. More than 500,000 seasoned Registered Nurses are anticipated to retire by 2022, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected the need for 1.1 million new RNs to replace retirees, avoid a nursing shortage, and expand the healthcare system. In a 2018 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses done by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services “The average age of respondents was 47.9 years old, with nearly half (47.5%) of all RNs aged 50 or older.” This number of retiring nurses also includes educators. With such a large number of members of the workforce potentially exiting, this not only leaves behind fewer nurses, but fewer faculty members to train new students as well.
Finally, caregiver burnout and stressful jobs are causing those in healthcare to reconsider their career options. An increased workload due to labor shortages, coupled with the additional stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, added on top of the regular stress of a job delivering critical care to those in need, can obviously contribute to nurse burnout. According to a University of St. Augustine article, “Nurse burnout is the state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion caused by sustained work-related stressors such as long hours, the pressure of quick decision-making, and the strain of caring for patients who may have poor outcomes.” Burnout can have a very negative impact on a nurse’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. A study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found a correlation between higher rates of burnout syndrome and nurses’ intention to leave their workplace/job.
While the impending nursing shortage will pose many problems, there is a positive side for healthcare workers. Many opportunities have been and will continue to be created, the main one being increased prospects for employment. Access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act and Baby Boomers utilizing Medicare/Medicaid has increased the need for more nurses and more specialized positions like geriatrics, telehealth, informatics, and education. The healthcare industry is generally considered to be recession-proof, which means that nursing careers offer potential long-term job security. Additionally, as demand for nursing services increases, so will salaries. An analysis conducted for The Wall Street Journal by healthcare consultants, Premier Inc., found that the average annual salary for registered nurses, not including bonus pay such as overtime, grew about 4% in the first nine months of 2021 to to $81,376.
2022 is the perfect time to consider a career in healthcare. U.S. News released their “100 Best Jobs of 2022” where Nurse Practitioner ranked #2, and Registered Nurse followed closely at #12. According to an article from The American Nurses Association (ANA), more Registered Nurse jobs will be available through 2022 than any other profession in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports “Employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.6 million new jobs. Healthcare occupations are projected to add more jobs than any of the other occupational groups.” Between rising wages, job security, and better avenues for career growth through specialized positions, nursing and healthcare positions and general offer many perks that other career paths don’t. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that passionate individuals enter the healthcare field in order to revitalize and sustain the nursing workforce
If you are a medical professional looking for a job with competitive pay and flexible scheduling, join our team at Kindcare Staffing! Apply via https://bit.ly/ApplyKindcare, or call (866) 62-STAFF to speak with a recruiter today.