The Nursing Workforce: Is There Still a Shortage? · The Gypsy Nurse

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By The Gypsy Nurse Staff

August 5, 2016



The Nursing Workforce: Is There Still a Nursing Shortage?

It’s glaringly apparent that there is still an on-going nursing shortage in select areas in the US.  Every two years the NCSBN (National Council of State Boards of Nursing) works with The National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers to perform a study on the nursing workforce.

It’s interesting to note that over 50% of the participants in this study are over the age of 50. This would indicate that a large amount of our nursing workforce is approaching or at retirement.

Source: NCSBN

What’s Being Done to Alleviate the Nursing Shortage?

Interestingly, it was actually quite difficult to determine what steps the various states are taking in an effort to manage and work through these shortages. In fact, most of the reports that I sought out were well over 2 years old in most cases and some as much as 10 or more years since the last reporting. Here are some of the more recent reports.

  • The American Association of Colleges of Nursing | Nursing Shortage’s latest reporting is from 2014 
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2012-2022 released in December 2013:

Registered Nursing (RN) is listed among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2022. The RN workforce is expected to grow from 2.71 million in 2012 to 3.24 million in 2022, an increase of 526,800 or 19%. The Bureau also projects the need for 525,000 replacements nurses in the workforce bringing the total number of job openings for nurses due to growth and replacements to 1.05 million by 2022.  (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Who Is Taking Charge?

It’s unfortunate, but from the research that I’ve been able to find, it appears that states are ignoring this potential healthcare disaster.

How Florida Is Taking Charge

Florida, is taking charge of the situation. Not only has Florida opted to join the Nurse Compact, but they have also completed a comprehensive report, which includes strategies to address this looming crisis. According to the Florida Center for Nursing (reported in June 2015):

“Baseline forecasts show that Florida will face a shortage of RNs by 2025 that is capable of crippling our healthcare system and reducing access to care for Floridians…”

Unlike many other states, Florida realizes that it has a dire need to address this issue and has set up a series of strategies to address it.  Florida has identified four areas that they have addressed in the strategies report linked above.

  • Education
  • Work environment
  • Research
  • Policy

You can read more  from the Florida Center for Nursing and their Forecasts & Strategies for the shortage as well as their Strategies to Successfully Provide Floridians an Adequate, Qualified Nurse Workforce

What Does the Shortage Mean for the Travel Medical Staffing Industry?

The Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” was implemented in 2014.  According to CDC.Gov data;

The current enrollment numbers (as of February 2016) are roughly: 12.7 million in the marketplace, and very roughly 20 million total between the ACA between the Marketplace, Medicaid expansion, young adults staying on their parents plan, and other coverage provisions. The uninsured rate remains at an all time low with 9.1% of under 65 uninsured as of 4th quarter 2015.

What this means is an all time high in the number of insured American’s. Where are these now ensured going for their healthcare needs? What are the hospitals, clinics and states doing to make sure that there is adequate nursing coverage? Here are some key perspectives:

  • According to a Forbes report from October 2015 (Hospitals are beginning to reach out to the ‘contract’ labor market. More specifically, the Travel Nurse Market.

A window into this trend opened this week at the nation’s largest hospital company, HCA Holdings, which said increased patient volume from the health law and an improved economy forced its hospitals to hire more nurses from “contract labor” firms given the need for hundreds of these health professionals at its more than 100 hospitals across the country. (See full full report here)

  • In a 2014 report on the affect of ACA on the Healthcare Workforce

Health care workers are facing mounting stress and instability as the Affordable Care Act forces industry changes that overburden health professionals, leading to increased dissatisfaction, burnout, and the loss of care providers.” See full report report here.

  • A 2015 report by Beckers Hospital Review stated that “almost 50 percent of healthcare employers have plans to hire temporary or contract workers this year.” See full Beckers Hospital Review Report here.
  • According to Staffing Industry Analysts 2016 US Staffing Industry Forecast: “the healthcare segment of the US temporary staffing market is projected to grow a robust 14% in 2016, following a 20% surge in 2015.”

What Does This Critical Shortage Mean for Travel Nurses?

Combining the fact that the states are not addressing these issues and the multitude of agreements that there is a significant increase of ‘contingent’ staffing for temporary shortages, the travel nurse market will continue to grow and thrive.  A quick search for “temporary nursing” nets over 12,000 results on and the new Job Listings feature launched just over a month ago on (link) currently has over 80,000 temporary jobs listed and is growing daily.

Finding contingent staff is a hurdle for the hospitals but for the travel medical professional the supply versus demand equation is currently in our favor. If you are seeking your next travel position, check out the available jobs via (link) and if you are new to traveling read over our “Step by Step” travel nurse plan (link to to get started.

Stay tuned on more information on how to leverage this current nursing shortage in your favor as a travel nurse.

What is your home state doing to address nursing shortage? If you have information related to the state’s reactions and strategies on the nursing shortage, please post in the comments and let us know.

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