Is the United States running out of nurses?

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According to a recent article in The Atlantic, the U.S. is in the midst of a nursing shortage. The article cites that the shortage has been going on for decades, but we now are in desperate need.

What’s fueling the nursing shortage?

An aging population

As baby boomers age, there are now more Americans over the age of 65 than at any other time in our nation’s history. In addition to an aging population, the nursing sub-population is aging. In fact, more than 500,000 nurses are projected to retire by 2022.

Chronic illness

Our country is seeing an increase in chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. According to the CDC, about half of all adults—117 million Americans—suffer from one or more chronic health condition.

Health insurance reform

Reforms in healthcare will give millions of people access to the healthcare system. (Prior to the reform, people without insurance were less likely to seek treatment.) The newly insured are now seeking treatment, and more nurses and health professionals are needed in response.

Why does having a BSN matter?

The demand for RNs prepared with a baccalaureate degree is growing. Almost 80% of employers either require or express a strong preference for nurses with a BSN degree; the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) advises that 80% of nurses hold a bachelor’s degree by 2020; and the nation’s Magnet hospitals have moved to require all nurse managers to hold at least a BSN. This is due to a growing body of research that shows that lower mortality rates, fewer medication errors and increased positive outcomes are all linked to nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level.

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