The Registered Nurse shortage is a topic that has been discussed at length, as it is the top growth occupation during the current decade. Between 2010 and 2020, the projected growth is 26% or 712,000 new positions. In addition, ongoing retirements add another 495,000 replacement positions for a grand total of 1.2 million additional nurses needed by 2020. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.t06.htm (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.t06.htm) Although this shortage will be across the United States the West and the South are forecast to experience the largest impact.
Through the years, one of the biggest shifts we have experienced is the change in the care delivery setting. Hospitals used to be the primary environment but the focus on ambulatory care has led to a shift in those numbers. Currently, only 33% of healthcare workers are employed in a hospital setting and 22% in nursing and residential care. The largest percentage of 45% works in ambulatory care that includes offices of physicians, home health, outpatient care centers and other ambulatory settings. Home health has seen the fastest growth rate of 6.7% over the past 12 months while hospitals saw only a 0.5% growth rate.
This shift in care delivery settings has brought new issues within the nursing community. Training is one of the biggest challenges as the non-hospital settings often want to hire RNs that have hospital acute care experience. This means additional training budgets for both the inpatient and outpatient training departments as RNs move between work environments.
RNs are basically very happy with the career they chose according to a recent AMN RN Survey. 90% of RNs were very satisfied with their career choice but only 73% indicated they were happy with their current job. Approximately 33% stated they hoped to not be working in their current job one year from now. Although dissatisfaction was reported from all age groups, the over 40 groups were more dissatisfied than the younger RNs. Specialties reporting 30% or more that want to leave their positions within the year include ICU, OR, ER, Tele, Geriatrics, Psych, Home Health, Rehab and MedSurg.
This survey also reported the changes that we are already beginning to see as the economy slowly improves. In the RNs over the age of 55, 13% of respondents plan to retire in the near future while an additional 7% will go part time. With the patient at the center of everything an RN does, this dissatisfaction can be seen when the surveyed RNs were asked if the quality of patient care was decreasing. Sadly the report was “yes” from 66% of RNs over 55, 56% for RNs 40-54 and 37% for the younger group.
In reviewing this data from various surveys and looking ahead toward 2014, there are some clear implications for any RN recruiter in healthcare. First, the shortage is real and will continue to ramp up in the years to come. Requiring 1.2 million more RNs in a profession that only has 3 million RNs now will not be possible by 2020. Therefore, hiring the right RN and providing a thorough onboarding and orientation program will be very important. And second, attention to retention and engagement will be required for success in keeping the patients cared for at a high quality level by experienced and satisfied professionals.