The nursing shortage isn’t unique to Pennsylvania, and the problem has been slowly worsening over time. However, Pennsylvania is feeling the effects of a state-wide nurse shortage. Let’s look at the factors contributing to the nursing shortage and the impact this has on society at large. We’ll also share the hard data that brought this trend to light.
The Hard Data
Pennsylvania has over 180,000 nurses in its official registry. However, that number isn’t static. Existing nurses retire or quit, and they may or may not be replaced by people entering the profession.
A 2009 report found that enrolment in nursing schools was below the levels necessary to meet increasing demand due to an aging population, and the incoming talent may soon be outstripped by retirements. The average age of registered nurses is increasing since there are fewer young nurses coming in to replace those who retire or leave the profession. Approximately two-thirds of nurses surveyed were found to have been nurses for fifteen years or more. Another sixth had been nurses for three to eight years.
Nor could nursing schools simply expand enrolment to train new nurses since nursing schools themselves were struggling to fill faculty positions. Nationwide, nursing schools turned away almost eighty thousand potential bachelor and advanced degree applicants due to faculty shortages. Ironically, this hurts the faculty shortage since you need an advanced nursing degree to become a nursing faculty member. [Read more…]