APN News

  • Sunday, September, 2021| Today's Market | Current Time: 05:20:24
  • A recent report by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) indicated that current levels of nursing school enrollment are not high enough to meet the demand for Registered Nurses and other nursing services such as nurse faculty, researchers, and primary care providers.

    This is partly because the population is aging, meaning that there are likely to be more people requiring access to primary care services than there is staff to provide the care. There are also other issues around getting enough trainee nurses enrolled in their course of choice.

    Why is the demand for nurses so high?

    The AACN reported that there were some factors contributing to the nursing shortage:

    The population is aging. People are living longer than they ever have before. Improved health education and access to healthcare mean that there are more adults over 65 than there have been historically, and generally, there is a higher recurrence of chronic and long-term health conditions in this demographic, which requires healthcare.

    More chronic health conditions. There has been a rise in long-term health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and addiction, all of which require care from nursing staff.

    Nurses are retiring. A recent study found that the average age for registered nurses is 50, so we can expect to see many nurses retiring over the next few years.

    Shortage of nursing school places. In 2019, nursing schools turned away over 80,000 qualified applicants due to limited numbers of teaching staff and limited access to teaching sites and clinical placements.

    What can be done to help resolve the nursing shortage?

    Organizations like the AACN use their influence to lobby for change to legislation and form partnerships and strategies that will help tackle this issue. 

    According to a recent article in the OJIN (Online Journal of Issues in Nursing), three main areas will help to address the nursing shortage:

    Educating the community about healthy living. Educating people on disease prevention and living a healthy lifestyle will help reduce the number of people living with chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity. In addition, nursing care is focused on the relationships nurses have with their patients, so nurses themselves are perfectly placed to help address the nursing shortage through the education they provide within a healthcare setting. Educational campaigns in the community and in schools and universities also have a huge part to play in giving people the tools they need to lead healthier lifestyles.

    Increased funding. Historically, funding has been released to attract nurses to areas of the country where the nursing shortage is at its worst. However, this takes nurses away from other areas, so it moves it around rather than resolving the issue. The OJIN article suggests that an increase in funding for nursing could go a long way towards addressing the shortage.

    More trainee nurses. Training more nurses means that the shortage will be eased once those trainees qualify. Educational establishments putting more of a focus on nursing education is one way of tackling this issue, as is encouraging people at a younger age to consider a career in nursing.

    What role does online teaching play?

    Many compassionate and caring people working in other sectors would love the opportunity to retrain as a nurse but are prevented from doing so because of their location or other commitments such as work and family.

    Increasingly, educational institutions are addressing this problem by making more of their teaching available online to be more easily accessible.

    Institutions like Elmhurst University offer online ABSN programs that allow people to retrain as nurses, even if they have other commitments.

    The ABSN offered by Elmhurst allows students with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline to retrain as a nurse and qualify with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing within 16 months. Allowing more people to access nursing education is a huge part of addressing the nursing shortage.

    What is the career outlook for registered nurses?

    Nursing is a highly respected profession that comes with a great deal of opportunity for career development.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median pay for registered nurses in 2020 was $75,330 per year, which is much higher than in other occupations. Nurses are paid according to their work and level of experience, with the highest 10% of nurses being paid over $116,230 per year.

    It’s expected that the number of registered nurses employed will increase by 7% between 2019 and 2029, which is much higher than in other professions.

    Nurses can work in a number of different settings. For example, some nurses work in hospitals, while others work in places like schools, community health centers, or nursing homes. This means that nurses are granted a degree of flexibility about how they design their working lives.

    What career paths are open to registered nurses?

    Once you are qualified as a registered nurse, you have the opportunity to specialize in a specific field of medicine or continue your training to move onto a role elsewhere in the healthcare sector. This makes nursing a career with a lot of room for opportunity.

    Just some of the best specialty career choices for nursing are:

    Nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who continue their education to master and sometimes even doctorate level. They have a similar level of authority over patient care to physicians, and in some states, they can even open their own healthcare clinics.

    Nurse educators. Nurse educators are the people who are there to help trainee nurses as they embark on their careers, working in either hospitals or colleges and universities.

    Nurse researchers. As the name suggests, nurse researchers spend their time researching and analyzing information to improve the healthcare system.

    Chief nursing officer. Senior management level in healthcare establishments, chief nursing officers are involved with strategic planning and decision making to ensure excellent patient care and staff wellbeing.