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Nursing Shortage…Fact or Fiction?

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For as long as I’ve been a nurse (10 years), I’ve been hearing about a nursing shortage. This article on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) website, written in 2012, lists various statistics indicating that job growth in the healthcare sector is up, with Registered Nursing being the top occupation through 2020. The article also cites sources that  forecast a shortage of RN’s in the US through the year 2030. This infographic illustrates why the demand for nurses is expected to grow throughout the next few decades.

Despite all the hype about the demand for RN’s and the nursing shortage, why is it that new graduates are finding it difficult to land jobs? An article on describes the challenges new graduates are facing finding jobs in this weak economy.

“New grads need not apply”.

For acute care positions, new graduates are being bypassed in favor of hiring nurses with more experience. It’s common knowledge that hiring new grads is an expensive investment for hospitals, particularly in the current economy. Various sources indicate it can cost upwards of $60,000 to hire and train and new nurse.

While nursing schools continue to churn out hundreds of graduates each semester, there simply aren’t enough open positions available to absorb the influx of graduates.

So, is there really a nursing shortage? While it seems there are no real answers, here is one explanation: It ‘s reported that baby boomers who had expected to retire have had to put those golfing plans on hold. Ultimately, as the economy picks up we may see these nurses begin to leave the workforce, opening up positions for new grads who have been waiting for their opportunity to step in. There is also lots of talk about job opportunities increasing as the Affordable Care Act ramps up over the next few years. Unfortunately, for those new nurses struggling to find work, these explanations offer little comfort as they continue to be turned away from HR departments across the U.S.

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