Multiple factors cited in shortage of nurses

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

The demand for nurses is once again a major health care issue, with hospitals across the state wooing potential nurses with signing bonuses and other incentives to get them to join.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over the next five years, an additional 1.1 million nurses will need to be added to the labor force. This unprecedented demand is caused by a number of factors coming together to create the perfect storm.

According to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing fact sheet, 55 percent of the current registered nurse workforce is age 50 and older. One million registered nurses are expected to reach retirement age within the next 10 to 15 years. Another contributing factor is the Affordable Care Act, which has helped 16 million previously uninsured people gain coverage since 2010, increasing the number of Americans visiting hospitals and clinics across the state. Lastly, more people are living longer with chronic medical conditions.

When an area doesn’t have enough health professionals, it is designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). Missouri is among the states with the lowest percentage of needs met at under 40 percent. Nationally, that rate is 60 percent, according to data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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