Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the provision of registered nurses within the U.S. seems to be reaching a harmful stage of scarcity, a group of healthcare coverage researchers has discovered. Writing within the on-line “Forefront” part (previously the Well being Affairs Weblog) of Well being Affairs, David I. Auerbach, Peter I. Buerhaus, Ph.D., Karen Donelan, Sc.D., and Douglas Staiger, Ph.D. state clearly of their article revealed on April 13, “A Worrisome Drop In the Number of Young Nurses,” that the U.S. healthcare system is quickly shifting right into a disaster state of affairs with regard to the recruitment and retention of registered nurses.
“The US has loved regular development within the registered nurse (RN) workforce for the reason that Nineteen Seventies, offering the spine of the nation’s rising and evolving well being care supply programs,” they write. “When this development was threatened within the late Nineties as new entry into the occupation stagnated, Millennials embraced registered nursing and reversed the development within the early 2000s.” In that regard, the healthcare system skilled “regular development within the RN workforce rising from a bit of greater than 1.0 million RNs in 1982 to three.2 million in 2020. On a per capita foundation, that development represents roughly a doubling, from 52 full-time RNs per 10,000 US residents in 1982 to 100 RNs per 10,000 residents in 2020. Put one other approach, RNs represented 1 p.c of the US inhabitants in 2020. Right now, the variety of per capita RNs within the US is both on par with or increased than most different Group for Financial Cooperation and Improvement nations, in distinction with the variety of physicians, which is among the many lowest of those nations.”
As a substitute, “Now, two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the provision of RNs is beneath menace once more. Utilizing month-to-month knowledge from the Present Inhabitants Survey, our not too long ago revealed analyses in Well being Affairs confirmed that development in the RN workforce plateaued through the first 15 months of the pandemic. Though it’s troublesome to disentangle the contributing elements, these possible embrace early retirements, pandemic burnout and frustration, interrupted work patterns from household wants similar to childcare and elder care, COVID-19 an infection and associated staffing shortages, and different disruptions all through well being care supply organizations. Extending that evaluation by the tip of 2021 furthers our concern. New knowledge right here, masking the whole thing of 2021, present the whole provide of RNs decreased by greater than 100,000 in a single yr—a far higher drop than ever noticed over the previous 4 many years.”
The article’s authors notice the perhaps-surprising discovering that the biggest discount in nurse numbers by share in 2021 was truly amongst RNs beneath 35, at 4.0 p.c, in comparison with a 0.5-percent discount amongst these 35-49, and a 1.0-percent discount amongst these over 50. What’s extra, they write, “[T]hese reductions are much more putting in comparison with what we had anticipated in 2021 for whole nursing provide absent the pandemic. For instance, our mannequin projected whole workforce provide development of 4.4 p.c from 2019 to 2021 moderately than the noticed discount of 1.8 p.c, a distinction of practically 200,000 (-6.2 p.c) RNs from expectations. This differential was even bigger, in share phrases, amongst RNs youthful than age 35 (-8.8 p.c, or 80,000 fewer RNs than anticipated).
All this portends an ominous development, they write: “A sustained discount within the variety of youthful age RNs would increase ominous implications for the long run workforce. As a result of RNs usually stay working in nursing over their profession, a discount of youthful RNs within the workforce would exert an impression that’s felt over a era, in distinction to a comparatively modest discount in long-run RN provide because of early retirement of the infant boomer RNs working into their 60s and 70s.” Certainly, they notice, functions to four-year bachelor of nursing applications, which had been rising in recent times, grew up 1.3 p.c in 2020. “An additional slowdown or outright discount in candidates in 2021 would be additional trigger for important concern,” they add.
David I. Auerbach is an exterior adjunct school member at the Middle for Interdisciplinary Well being Workforce Research at Montana State College Faculty of Nursing; Peter I. Buerhaus, Ph.D., is director of the Middle for Interdisciplinary Well being Workforce Research and professor of nursing at Montana State College; Karen Donelan, Sc.D., is the Stuart H. Altman Professor and chair in US well being coverage at Brandeis College; and Douglas Staiger, Ph.D., is the John French Professor in Economics within the Division of Economics at Dartmouth Faculty, and a analysis affiliate on the Nationwide Bureau of Financial Analysis, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.