Journal of Nursing
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Georgetown University Researchers: 1.3 Million Nurses Short By 2020

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By Dan Cook

Any relief found in the news of a narrowing of the so-called physician gap may have just been offset by word of a major shortage of nurses brewing in the U.S.

In a new report, university researchers say they have pinpointed an alarming stumbling block to the education and graduation of the number of nurses that will be needed by the health care system in 2020.

They continued to say that the projected shortfall of 193,000 nurses by that year is almost completely related to the current educational system's inability to find places in classrooms for thousands of qualified candidates. Those nursing school applicants are now being rejected simply because the programs are jammed and can’t handle the number of solid applicants.

Georgetown said there will be a demand for 1.6 million nurses in 2020, but if current trends continue, it won't be filled. Schools that train nurses are now turning away one-third of all qualified candidates, thereby virtually assuring that a substantial gap will be created over the next five years.

“Even with the mounting demand, crowded nursing schools continue to reject qualified applicants,” said Anthony Carnevale, the lead author of the report. “Colleges and universities reject one out of three qualified applicants to Bachelor of Nursing programs and over half of qualified applicants to Associate of Nursing programs.”

The university noted in a release that demand will grow due to an aging population and expanded availability of health insurance thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“Meanwhile, older nurses are retiring in large numbers, creating thousands of job openings, while some younger nurses are leaving the profession chiefly due to a stressful, demanding work environment that features long hours, erratic schedules, and high penalties for error. In addition, nursing schools lack the faculty, facilities, and training sites to match the growing demand,” the research report said.

“The nursing profession is one of the surest routes to the middle class for millions of women,” said Nicole Smith, a co-author of the report. “Now that we’ve increased barriers to immigrate nursing talent from outside the U.S., unless something changes, many rural communities will continue to be underserved.”

Other major findings include:

Of the 1.6 million job openings in nursing, 700,000 will result from newly created positions, and 880,000 will result from retirements.

The 3.5 million nursing professionals account for three of every five jobs for health care professionals in the United States.

Of all nursing professionals with an active license, 31 percent work outside the profession.



 
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  • How was the affordable health care act supposed to help the shortage? I thought more money was to f be available for educators. What else can be done there?

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