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Nursing Shortage: The Facts and Causes

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By Phil Cohen

Take a deeper look at the highs and lows of the nursing industry in the United States. What are the numbers and why is there a nursing shortage? Check out our infographic to get a better visual of the numbers.

In 2022, the nursing shortage statistics indicate a growing need for registered nurses in the United States. According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), registered nurse positions are projected to be in higher demand than any other profession. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be a requirement for more than 275,000 additional nurses between 2020 and 2030. Adding to the challenges, a survey conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing reveals that the average age of registered nurses in the U.S. in 2020 was 51 years old, suggesting a potential increase in retirements and a strain on the workforce.

Furthermore, burnout and stressful work environments are causing a significant percentage of nurses to consider leaving their current roles. An analysis by Incredible Health found that over a third of nurses plan to leave their positions by the end of 2022 due to these factors. This indicates a potential loss of experienced nurses and further exacerbation of the nursing shortage in the near future.

In terms of nursing education, there are additional challenges that contribute to the shortage. A report by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) highlights that in 2019, there were 80,407 qualified applications turned away from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs due to various constraints. These limitations include an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and financial constraints.

Nursing Shortage Highs and Lows

Where are nurses working?

  • Outpatient- 15.31%
  • Nursing Facility- 9.6%
  • Home Health Care- 13.23%
  • Physician Offices- 7.81%
  • General Medical Hospitals- 30.59%
  • Other- 23.46%

One main reason for the shortage of nurses is the baby boomers average age increasing. With this group aging and needing more medical attention, more nurses will be needed each year. Baby boomers are born between 1946-1949.

By 2030, it is estimated that one out of every five Americans will be a senior citizen.

The percent of U.S. citizens over the age of 95 has been steadily increasing from 1990 to today, with numbers expected to continue to increase. In 1990, a little over 11 percent were over 65. In 2000 that number went up to 12.4, went up to 13 in 2010, 15.2 in 2016, and is expected to jump to 20 percent in 2030.

With this large group of individuals getting older and needing more care, another main reason for the shortage is that a large group of nurses will be retiring soon because they’re aging as well.

In addition, educators who teach nurses are starting to retire, making it a cycle contributing to the shortage.

From 2000 to 2008 the percent of nurses over 50 increased by 22 percent.

States Projected to Have a Nursing Shortage by 2020

  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Maine
  • Rhode Island
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland

The number of new jobs projected by occupation from 2014-2024 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded that two of the top ten occupations with the most job opening projected are related to the nursing industry. Some of the increases include:

  1. Personal Care Aides: 48.8 percent increase
  2. Registered Nurses: 19.4 percent increase
  3. Home Health Aides: 48.5 percent increase
  4. Nursing Assistants: 21.1 percent increase
  5. Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses: 24.8 percent increase


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Phil Cohen

About the author

Philip Cohen is the founder and President of PRN Funding, LLC. PRN Funding is an extraordinarily focused niche player in healthcare funding. With years of…... Read More

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