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Demand for Nurses More Critical Than Ever

Today’s nursing field is facing a dire situation, as an increasing number of nurses exit the healthcare sector. This nursing shortage is not “new” by any means, but it is reaching a dangerous tipping point.

Where have all the nurses gone? And what can be done about the declining supply?

Top 5 Reasons for the Nursing Shortage

One primary reason nurses are in short supply is that an entire generation of nurses are either in the process of retiring or nearing that milestone. Retirement is a good thing and well-earned after a lifetime dedicated to the care of others. Certainly, no one can fault a nurse who is easing out of the career, but retirement is undoubtedly a contributing factor.

Nurses are not only retiring from clinic and hospital settings, but also from their posts within nursing schools. With not enough faculty to educate the next generation of nursing students, and a lack of resources, schools are often forced to turn away applicants.

How severe is this impact on enrollment? The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) revealed in its “2019-2020 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing” report that U.S. nursing schools refused 80,407 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2019 for the very reasons mentioned above.

From a patient community perspective, there are more individuals requiring care. An aging Baby Boomer population, combined with advancements in medical science, has resulted in more patients going in and out of care settings. The increasing prevalence of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and obesity is deepening the demand for trained nurses.

Of course, one factor brought into the spotlight throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been burnout. While burnout has always been an issue within healthcare, the pandemic heightened its ubiquity. The good news is, the nursing field is now hyper-aware of burnout’s presence and is making a concerted effort to mitigate it.

Stopping the Bleed

While the nursing shortage is often discussed negatively as it pertains to supply and demand, there’s also great opportunity for individuals entering the nursing field. The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that employment of registered nurses (RNs) is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Some areas of the country will see more competition for nursing jobs. This competitive environment becomes even fiercer as an increasing number of employers prefer to hire nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

As the BLS states, “Generally, registered nurses who have a BSN will have better job prospects than those without one. Employers also may prefer candidates who have some related work experience or certification in a specialty area, such as gerontology.”

BSN-prepared nurses are also valued for their advanced skills, critical thinking, leadership, management and comprehensive approach to patient care (and outcomes).

The Future Awaits

The outlook for career advancement is excellent for nurses who jump on this tremendous opportunity. BSN-prepared nurses can expect lucrative earning potential. They can also move more easily through the ranks into desired positions that hold greater responsibility, such as leadership roles. Earning a BSN degree is often the first step toward eventual graduate study or an advanced practice nursing career.

While it may seem a faster path for RNs to enter the workforce with only an associate degree (ADN), some BSN programs can be completed in as few as nine months, enabling nurses to earn a BSN while continuing to work. Tuition is also reasonable at many institutions.

For example, the total cost of the RN to BSN online degree program at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) is $8,995. Nurses who complete the program are that much closer to earning the national average salary of $86,520 — compared to RNs with ADNs, who earn an average annual salary of $70,700.

Nursing isn’t for everyone, as is the case with any field. However, if the career calls to you, the future that awaits could be enriching.

Learn more about The University of Texas at Arlington’s online RN to BSN program.

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