Nursing Shortage: Likely Reasons for Shortage in the Nursing Workforce

Nursing Shortage: Likely Reasons for Shortage in the Nursing Workforce

In the healthcare sector, one of the most critical career paths is nursing. The importance of nurses in this sector cannot be overemphasized. They dominate the biggest part of the health profession. 

In a report made by the world health statistics, it is said that globally, there are about 29 million midwives and nurses. Out of this number, 3.9 million are in the U.S. The statistics also show a projected increase in the demand for nurses by the end of 2020. 

The American Nurses Association (ANA) reported that by 2022 there will be more nursing jobs available compared to any other career path in the U.S. The statistics doesn’t end here; other organizations such as the US Bureau of Statistics project are also making reports. They say that 11 million more nurses are needed to avoid nursing shortage. 

These projections indicate that the employment opportunity projection for nurses is estimated to grow by 15% from 2016 to 2026. As the demand for nurses is on the rise, there are also an increase in demand for medical related products and services such as medical real estate services and many others.

Our focus in this article is however the problem of nursing shortage. It’s our belief that the first step towards finding nursing shortage solutions is to identify what factors led to this short fall in the first place. We will be addressing this here.

What is Nursing Shortage

In the healthcare sector, a situation whereby there is a higher demand for professional nurses (registered nurses) compared to the supply is referred to as a Nursing shortage. This means the number of job openings is higher than the amount of nurses available. 

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Irrespective of the fact that there is a high demand for nurses in the healthcare sector, the issue of nursing shortage is major healthcare problem and is caused by various reasons. This problem in the health care facility can be a local, national or global issue of concern. 

The lack of educators, workforce distribution and high turnover is causing the nursing profession to constantly face shortages. Some other potential reasons will be fully explored in this article.

Shortage in the Nursing Workforce

Potential Reasons for Nursing Shortage

There are numerous reasons behind the shortage in the nursing work force. In this article, the focus will be on family and career, the aging population, aging work force and growth. You can find more details here:

Family and Career

In the healthcare sector, the dominating genders in nursing are females. During their childbearing years, the nurses either take time off or quit the profession. A few of them return but others move on to a new line of work. When this happen, there is a drop in the number of nurses and thus creates more job openings needed to be filled.

Increase in the aging population

Reports say that the U.S has the most number of people above the age of 65 compared to any other period in history. It is also said that by 2029 the last set of the generation of baby boomers will get to their retirement age.

This will result in a 73% increase in the number of Americans aged 65 and older. As at 2011 the population of baby boomers was 41 million and in 2019 has grown to 71 million. As the number of the aging population keeps increasing, there is also an increase in the need for healthcare services.

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The fact is that the older generations are usually not dealing with only one health problem. Often times they are dealing with multiple diagnoses that require treatments. With various breakthroughs in the world of medicine, a lot of diseases that were regarded as terminal are now easily treated or managed long term. Treating these kinds of long term health problems can put a lot of strain on the nursing workforce.

Increase in aging work force 

As the aging population increases, the nursing workforce is not left out. According to the statistics, there are about one million professional nurses above the age of 50. This means that one-third of the nursing workforce could be retiring in the next few years and this presents a unique problem. 

There is an increase in the aging population that needs medical attention, but there is also a decrease in the nursing workforce. This poses a significant shortage problem experienced in the nursing faculties causing limitations in enrollments which leads to a decrease in the in the number of nurses generated in the nursing schools.


The population growth potential of different countries also contributes to the shortage of nurses in the nursing workforce. You can watch this video to see how population growth affects nursing shortage. It is estimated that the U.S has the highest growth potential and it is projected that every state will have an 11% growth at least through 2022. This means the retirement population increases and causes strain on the nursing workforce.


The issue of nursing shortage cannot be overlooked; various statistics show that if proper measures are not taken, this problem will heavily impact the health sector. It is of no use to have medical breakthroughs that cannot be seamlessly implemented. The only hope is that proper measures and implementation be carried out as soon as possible to curb this issue. 


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