millenial nurse using tablet in hospital room
News April 6, 2017

By Melissa Mills, RN, BSN, CCM, MHA, contributor

Are Millennials the Answer to the Nursing Shortage?

Predictions of a nursing shortage have been around for years, with an aging population being at the crux of the matter. 

It was thought that the retirement of the baby boomers would leave the nursing profession with a grave staffing shortage problem, but the rush of millennials into nursing may have been the answer no one saw coming.

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A Timeline Of Nurse Shortage Statistics

In 2008, the U.S. experienced an economic downturn that has come to be known as the Great Recession. When this happened, many baby boomers rethought their plans for retirement.

At the same time, millennials were coming of age and searching for a career path that offered stability, meaningful work, and low risk of unemployment. 

For many, nursing fit the bill, and thus it quickly became a popular choice for millennials. Between 2003 and 2013, the number of people taking the registered nurse license exam more than doubled.

A 2014 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report projected that the supply of registered nurses would be approximately 12 percent higher than the demand by the year 2025.

Nursing shortage statistics are projected to be similar for licensed practical nurses. The report anticipated the supply of licensed practical nurses to reach 990,000 full-time equivalents by 2025, with the need only being 931,000 full-time equivalents, and while this is great news, the profession is not clear of a nursing shortage just yet.

Considering The Nurse Shortage By State

One problem is that there is a distinct distributional nurse shortage by state, an issue which the above projections tend to mask.

However, once you dig a bit deeper into the nurse shortage statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, you will see the true state of affairs. 

For example, a closer examination of the data reveals that sixteen states are projected to experience larger demands than the supply of registered nurses, with ten of these states located in one region: the West.

The largest projected nurse shortage statistics for registered nurses are in the following states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • North Carolina

Conversely, while these states continue to experience a nursing shortage, other states are projected to experience an abundance of nurses. The following states will have an adequate workforce:

  • Illinois
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania

Amongst licensed practical nurses, twenty-two states are projected to experience larger demands than the supply, resulting in a nursing shortage, and most are located in the Western part of the U.S., as well.

The worst predictions of nurse shortage by state for licensed practical nurses are in:

  • Georgia
  • Maryland
  • North Carolina

The following states are expected to have a positive workforce balance by 2025:

  • California
  • Florida
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Texas

 

Drawing Conclusions About The Nursing Shortage 

That said, even though there is plenty of science behind these nurse shortage statistics, it is certainly not an exact science. 

All of the statistics are based on the labor market in 2012, when the workforce was thought to be balanced. Any number of factors could change the predictions.

The healthcare system continues to evolve and change almost daily. As our nursing population continues to age at great speed, the millennial growth may not keep up enough to solve the nursing shortage. 

The predictions will continue to change with each new development and changes to nurse shortage statistics.

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