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The Shortage of Registered Nurses in the United States


The realization of population health, collective well-being, and impartial access to quality medical care are reliant on a contented and adequate workforce that has the ability to solve epidemiological problems and satisfy varying demands. Registered nurses (RNs) have an integral role to play in the provision of medical care. The rise in the number of operating RNs presents both personal advantages to patients and monetary gains to health institutions. There has been a rising debate with supporters affirming that the level of RNs in the United States has reduced to an extent that requires effective measures to address the shortage.

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On the contrary, critics assert that there has been an increment in the staffing of RNs and a shortage will not be experienced. Since 1998, the US has witnessed a mounting deficit of RNs mainly attributable to the increasing elderly population, in addition to aging nurses (Juraschek 474). Consequently, the demand for RNs outshines their supply with the shortage negatively affecting the delivery of care. With the number of RNs in the US continuing to decline attributable to issues such as turnover, stakeholders should provide successful policies to change the state of affairs and improve the quality of care.

My Perspective

The increasing worldwide population means that existing medical professionals should strive to deliver quality and personalized health services. Unfortunately, the current number of nurses providing medical support and care in the US continues to decrease. This is the case since the consumption or demand for such services has continued to change over the years. More patients are experiencing various opportunistic infections, hospital-acquired illnesses, and prolonged stays than ever before (Beitz 408). Medication errors and other problems such as job dissatisfaction have increased within the past two decades.

These issues are directly connected to the problem of the nursing shortage. Since the number of RNs in the United States has reduced due to the problem of turnover, poor remunerations and working conditions, improper training procedures, and lack of incentives for retaining caregivers, there is a need for stakeholders to present superior strategies that can transform the situation and improve the experiences of patients.

Nurses play a critical role in the delivery of medical services, care, and support. Currently, over 1 million RNs are about to retire since they have attained the age of 50 (Drennan and Ross 8). The existing health facilities and learning institutions are releasing a small percentage of professionals to the national workforce (Beitz 407). They also have limited resources, thereby making it hard for medical facilities to get competent practitioners whose skills resonate with patients’ demands. The level of turnover for nurses has also been on the rise (Beitz 409). Health institutions should implement diverse strategies to retain retirees and hire additional nurse aids. This will ensure that more patients receive high-quality and timely medical services.

The Other Perspective

After predictions developed over ten years ago, which indicated dreadful shortages of RNs; there has been a twofold increase in enrolment in nursing schools. Yearly retirement from nursing personnel will increase from about 20,000 to almost 80,000 by 2030 attributable to the continued aging of baby boomers. Nonetheless, the outflow will be counterbalanced by the continuing high entry of RNs into the labor force (Auerbach and Staiger 118).

The number of RNs is predicted to rise from 2.7 million fulltime equivalents to more than three million in the next decade (Smiley et al. S10). The anticipated surge of staffing of new RNs will result in the persistent increase of the nursing labor force. Though such growth might not be adequate to satisfy the demand, expectations are promising in the era of a quickly developing medical care provision system. With approximately 50% of RNs being in their 20 years to retirement, larger inflows have been developed to ensure that the remarkable linear augments in size are upheld (Auerbach et al. 853).

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This will ensure that the nursing workforce will continue to be young, vastly educated, high in the number of health professionals, and employ telehealth and other forms of technology to provide medical care. Apart from counteracting the problem of shortage, effective measures will ensure that the quality of care, individualized focus, and positive patient outcomes will not be compromised.


The fact that a high number of RNs are approaching retirement indicates a looming shortage. Moreover, apart from retirement, the nursing workforce is riddled with other serious problems that are leading to job dissatisfaction and increased turnover, hence worsening the shortage setback. Arising issues indicate that nursing shortage remains a major concern for both patients and hospitals. Without proper incentives and strategies to increase the number of RNs, chances are high that more people will be unable to receive the intended services. Similarly, those who are available in different units have to struggle since they receive uncompetitive salaries and operate in poor working conditions (Juraschek 476).

They also have to work overtime to meet their patients’ needs. Consequently, many nurses have continued to complain due to poor conditions, burnout, fatigue, and improper work-life balances. When these predicaments are examined from different perspectives, stakeholders will identify causal factors and encourage policymakers to present superior solutions. Such measures will attract more nurses and employ them to continue providing intended services (Beitz 407). These professionals will also receive better salaries and stop looking for new opportunities elsewhere. The result is that the experiences and outcomes of a high number of patients will improve.


The augment in the level of operating RNs has both personal gains to patients and monetary profits to health institutions. There has been a mounting debate whose supporters establish that the number of RNs in the United States has diminished to a degree that requires valuable measures to address the deficiency. In contrast, critics emphasize that there has been a rise in the staffing of RNs and shortage will not be encountered. With the persistent decline in the number of RNs in the US due to issues such as turnover, stakeholders should offer successful policies to alter the state of affairs and better the quality of care.

The current number of RNs offering health care and support in the United States keeps on decreasing. This might be attributable to the continued change in the demand for such services over the years. Medication errors, in addition to other issues such as turnover, have augmented within the past couple of decades. Such problems are directly associated with the nursing shortage. The outflow will be compensated by the high entry of RNs into the labor force. Stakeholders should identify causal factors and support policymakers in the realization of suitable solutions to the existing problems.

Works Cited

Auerbach, David, and Douglas Staiger. “How Fast Will the Registered Nurse Workforce Grow Through 2030? Projections in Nine Regions of the Country.” Nursing Outlook, vol. 65, no. 1, 2017, pp. 116-122.

Auerbach, David, et al. “Will the RN Workforce Weather the Retirement of the Baby Boomers?” Medical Care, vol. 53, no. 10, 2015, pp. 850-856.

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Beitz, Janice. “Addressing the Perioperative Nursing Shortage through Education: A Perioperative Imperative.” AORN Journal, vol. 110, no. 4, 2019, pp. 403-414.

Drennan, Vari, and Fiona Ross. “Global Nurse Shortages-The Facts, the Impact and Action for Change.” British Medical Bulletin, vol. 130, no. 1, 2019, pp. 1-13.

Juraschek, Stephen. “Refurbished: United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast.” American Journal of Medical Quality, vol. 34, no. 5, 2019, pp. 473-481.

Smiley, Richard, et al. “The 2017 National Nursing Workforce Survey.” Journal of Nursing Regulation, vol. 9, no. 3, 2018, pp. S1-S88.

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