America’s Nursing Shortage: The New Healthcare Epidemic

America’s Nursing Shortage: The New Healthcare Epidemic

A critical lack of nurses will have a major impact on the American healthcare system if we don’t find the solution.

By Ashley Driggs

It’s no secret. Nurses are in high-demand. It’s an issue that crosses state lines and is affecting healthcare systems nationwide, and it’s one that could reach “critical” status within the next decade. In fact, the American Nurses Association projects that, nationally, there will be more than 100,000 nursing jobs available annually through 2022, more than any other profession. This article in the Bangor Daily News explains how Maine will face a nursing shortage of 3,200 by 2025, and Crain’s Cleveland projects a shortage in Northeast Ohio of 3,500 by the year 2020. It’s a concerning issue at both the state and national levels, with the Maine and Ohio examples just scratching the surface.

The cause of the nursing shortage is largely attributed to a generation of nurses who are aging out of the workforce, trading in their scrubs for social security checks, enjoying a hard-earned retirement. That’s not the only cause, though. According to the American Nurses Association, the increase in the aging population and people living longer are both reasons that more healthcare workers are needed. Additionally, with the Affordable Care Act in place (at least for now), more people have access to healthcare than ever before, and that requires more healthcare professionals to care for them.

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Industry insiders speculate, citing a decreasing interest in nursing careers due to low pay as a contributor to the shortage, which in turn affects the quality of care that patients receive.

“Nurses don't make enough to put up with what we put up with on a daily basis,” says Elliott Douglass, BSN, RN, CWOCN, a Nashville, TN-based nurse. “Nurses are leaving [nursing] to pursue higher paying jobs where they don't have to do as much or be at the bedside. The younger generations seem to be about quick cash, which you will definitely not make in nursing.” Douglass also identifies an increase in nurse burnout as a contributor to the shortage. “You may only work three days a week, but you’re putting in a full work week in that time,” she explains.

So what is the national healthcare system to do? With every challenge comes the opportunity for solutions.

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In the Crain’s article mentioned above, staffing manager Tony Montville states that, “Every RN is the golden goose. The nirvana of recruiting success is being able to get a good, solid RN.” That places a heavy burden on recruitment and staffing firms to find these “golden geese,” as Montville calls them, and pair them with great opportunities that provide job satisfaction and work-life balance and, in turn, higher retention rate.

Relode is a perfect example of just that, both providing referral rewards, but also ensuring that the right people are being connected to the perfect job for them. “I believe one answer to help alleviate the nursing shortage is to use technology to allow existing resources to participate in a shared workforce within local and regional markets,” says Relode founder and CEO Matt Tant. “We are excited to be a small part of this innovation, and we look forward to bringing more innovative solutions to life and do our part in alleviating the nursing shortage.”

“Nursing is hard,” adds Douglass. “Taking care of people is not for the faint of heart or for the money seeking. Nursing schools need to increase recruiting, and hospitals need to increase pay to give current nurses reason to stay.”

If you’re looking for a nursing position, or if you know someone who is, sign up to become a Relode agent. Learn more about how our agents earn money from recommending the right person for the perfect job. Click here to get started.