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How You Can Help With the Nurse Shortage

News of a nurse shortage does not come as a surprise to those already working in the field. But besides picking up additional shifts and encouraging those interested in nursing to pursue the necessary education, you may feel like bridging the gap is out of your control. However, there is quite a bit that you can do.

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) — Nursing Education online program is one affordable and accessible way to take the nationwide nursing shortage head on. As a student, you will gain invaluable skills and lasting knowledge that will propel your career and improve the healthcare field as a whole.

What Is Fueling the Nursing Shortage?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for nurses is expected to grow faster than average at 7% from 2019-29, with approximately 221K job openings expected during that time frame. Although demand will likely vary based on location, many of the same factors are contributing to an overall shortage:

Retiring nurses and nursing faculty. The American Nurses Association (ANA) estimates that 500K nurses will retire by 2022, taking with them decades of experience and leaving critical vacancies in clinical care, research and leadership positions.

Similarly, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that about one-third of current nursing school faculty who teach in baccalaureate and graduate programs are expected to retire by 2025, creating further difficulties in maintaining adequate class sizes to meet enrollment demands. In 2019, more than 80K qualified baccalaureate and graduate nursing program applicants were turned away, in part due to insufficient faculty sizes.

Aging Baby Boomer population. U.S. Census Bureau data indicates that all members of the Baby Boomer generation will be aged 65 or older by 2030. This is the largest generation of retirees to-date and includes about 73 million people. Since these individuals have longer life expectancies than previous generations and are often managing multiple chronic health conditions, healthcare services’ demand is expected to rise exponentially.

How Can Current Nurses Help with the Nurse Shortage?

Even though you are already working in the field, there remains much you can do to help with the shortage, including:

Seek a new specialization. From critical care and informatics to gerontology and home health, choose to pursue one or more specializations that interest you. Employers may have reimbursement programs available to help offset the costs, especially for positions where local demand is outpacing supply.

Join a committee. Employers and nursing associations are working aggressively to find viable ways to address the shortage, but they need input from frontline workers to do so fully. Consider joining a committee at your workplace or at the local or regional level, where you can work toward solutions with like-minded individuals.

Advance your education. Pursuing a degree beyond a bachelor’s degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), allows you to leverage your experience and transition into the advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) roles vacated by retired professionals. According to the BLS, demand for APRNs, like nurse practitioners, is estimated to increase 45% from 2019-29.

Become a nurse educator. You can also enroll in an MSN in Nursing Education program, which prepares you to become a nurse educator at the university level. Increasing the number of nurse educators means that nursing programs can accommodate more qualified applicants and continuously prepare new graduates for the workforce to meet demand.

Rise to the Challenge

With an aging population requiring more care and a wave of Baby Boomer nurses nearing retirement, the nursing shortage poses a significant challenge. However, there are opportunities for nurses to ease the strain. From seeking specialization to becoming a nurse educator, today’s nurses can move into more advanced positions, filling the gaps and serving as mentors and guides for incoming graduates.

Learn more about William Paterson University’s online MSN — Nurse Education program.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Nursing Faculty Shortage

American Nurses Association: Workforce

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses

United States Census Bureau: By 2030, All Baby Boomers Will be Age 65 or Older

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