The baby boomer generation is one of the biggest generations the United States has ever seen, second now only to millennials. And as the baby boomer generation ages, they’re also, of course, retiring. The surge in retirees and elderly people seeking medical care is putting a strain on the medical industry. With the ever-growing U.S. nurse staffing shortage, the problem is expected to increase in the coming years.
The Aging Nurse Workforce
According to a study by AMN Healthcare, the number of nurses reaching retirement age is increasing. In the 2017 study, 27 percent of nurses said that they plan to retire within a year, compared to just 16 percent in 2015. With so many nurses retiring, it’s important that the next generation of nurses be adequately trained and prepared to take on a surge of patients.
Not Enough Nursing Students
The American Nurses Association estimates that 1.1 million nurses will be needed by 2022 to fill the employment gap and care for the aging population. While the next generation shows interest in clinical practice, fewer of them are actually attending nursing school than in past years. Based on enrollment statistics from 2016, by 2022 there should be about 442,000 nursing school graduates, which is not enough to meet the surging demand.
These challenges are expected to continue over the coming years, which is why it’s essential that hospitals and health systems look to best practices for hiring and retaining quality personnel. There are some creative solutions that can increase both the number and quality of nursing staff:
- Create better incentives. Nurse shortages mean that many nurses feel overworked. An overworked nurse threatens quality of care. While financial incentives can be helpful, they don’t address the fatigue that nurses often experience. Hospitals benefit from offering perks, such as more paid time off or more flexible work schedules, to increase interest in entering the nursing industry and decrease the chance of burn out.
- Increase educational resources. Educational resources are a great way to ensure that nurses — both beginning and experienced — have all of the training resources they need to provide the best quality of care. This can also encourage younger generations to choose a field of study in nursing to keep pace with demand.
- Improve technology. Cutting-edge healthcare technology is an innovative solution to meeting the demands of nurse shortage. Vendor management systems (VMS) streamline staffing vendor management and the process of hiring quality nurses.
- Contingent labor. With both patient demand and the nurse staffing shortage growing, you are competing for quality staff with other healthcare facilities down the street and across the nation. Since research shows that there’s no difference in patient care quality between travel and staff nurses, supplementing your core staff with temporary nurses might be a perfect solution.
When it comes to the nursing shortage in the face of an influx of retiring baby boomers, managing the nurse staffing shortage is extremely important. The ShiftWise Vendor Management System (VMS) helps healthcare facilities manage staffing vendors and expedite the selection of quality contingent nurses. Let ShiftWise help your facility navigate the nurse shortage so you can fulfill your mission to deliver the highest quality care.
AMN Healthcare; 2017 Survey of Registered Nurses; The Center for Advancement of Healthcare Professionals; AMN Healthcare
Advisory Board; 2017; The Nursing Generation: Millennials are twice as likely to become nurses as baby boomers, study finds; Advisory Board
Kauffman, Lena (2014), ANA: US will need 1.1 million more R.N.s by 2022 to head off shortage; Health Exec