nurse exhausted from nursing shortage

Understanding the Nursing Shortage and How to Handle It

Aug 8, 2022

Over the past few years, the number of nurses needed and the number of nurses leaving the profession are rapidly increasing, resulting in a nursing shortage that is making it more difficult to ensure quality patient care in some areas. In fact, according to a 2022 survey by the American Nurses Foundation (ANA), 89% of nurses claimed their organization was facing a staffing shortage.

Although nurses were already in high demand before the global pandemic, the number has escalated due to the impact that the pandemic has had on nurses physically and mentally. By learning more about what’s contributing to the nursing shortages, we can understand what can be done about it.

What is causing a shortage?

Of course, there are many variants in each nurse’s experience. However, there are also some noticeable patterns in the growing shortage of nurses that we can look to for further understanding. Below are three of the highest reoccurring factors that have been identified as being the most detrimental.  

Deciding to leave the profession

According to the ANA’s study, a significant number of nurses will be retiring soon, with more than one-fifth of RNs intending to retire between 2020-2025. General career fatigue and an older average age among the nursing demographic are factors that are contributing to the increase in retirement and early retirement. Yet, the stress from the pandemic has certainly added pressure. Inability to deliver quality care consistently is now a top-cited reason for nurses’ intent to leave the profession. This has led some to reevaluate their options and either return to school or pursue a different career. It’s estimated that by 2030, roughly 1.2 million new nurses will be needed to replace those retiring to accommodate healthcare services.

Exacerbated burnout

A National Institute of Health review stated multiple case studies show the impact on nurses’ ability to cope with high-pressure job stressors has been severe. 34.1% of participants reported emotional exhaustion, 12.6% experienced depersonalization, and 15.2% felt a personal lack of accomplishment. Of the more than 18,935 nurses who met the inclusion criteria, the core risk factors for high burnout included:

  • Low family and colleagues’ readiness to cope with the COVID‐19 outbreak
  • Longer working time in quarantine areas
  • Working in a high‐risk environment and hospitals with inadequate and insufficient material and human resources
  • Increased workload and lower level of specialized training regarding COVID‐19

Education bottleneck

The pandemic has also delayed the amount of possible incoming nurses due to delays in the educational end of training. Insufficient numbers of nurse faculty and classroom space are leading to many nursing student applicants being turned away. Furthermore, up to 14,000 nursing students preparing to graduate into entry-level nursing programs in 2020 had to wait to continue clinical training due to COVID restrictions that limited their roles.

What nursing looks like going forward

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for registered nurses is expected to be nine percent through 2030. This amounts to roughly 194,500 job openings per year. Nurses at these facilities account for 31 percent of the workforce in this industry.

RNs aren’t the only role that will need new graduates over the next decade. The BLS also projects growth across multiple nursing roles, including:

  • Licensed practical nurses (LPNs): 65,700 new LPN roles will be created by 2029, for a growth of 9%.
  • Nurse anesthetists: 6,200 new nurse anesthetist roles will be created by 2029, for a growth of 14%.
  • Nurse practitioners: 110,700 nurse practitioner roles will be created by 2029, for a growth of 52%.
  • Nurse midwives: 800 nurse midwife roles will be created by 2029 for a growth of 12%.

These employment levels can give you a better idea of which types of healthcare industries will likely have a higher number of job openings in the coming years. Unlike many other fields facing employer shortages, there is no way to minimize the demand for healthcare. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities will always need qualified nurses.

What Get Med is doing to assist

Healthcare was, is, and most likely always will be a stressful field to work in. GetMed understands how dire the situation is. The difference our travelers make during their assignments is exponential. We are committed and proud to support our nurses’ efforts to provide excellent care while appreciating a different environment and culture and are excited about expanding future career growth.

We proactively work to ensure every process is smoother for travelers and facilities to provide committed, quality workers are put into place.

Contact our recruiters today to help alleviate pressure in this ongoing battle, one placement at a time.