American Public Media’s radio program Marketplace recently broadcast a story regarding the nursing shortage in the US, which is predicted to worsen over the next ten years. The shortage is expected for the following reasons:
- More than one third of RNs in the United States are over the age of 50 and will begin retiring or working less hours in the coming years.
- As these RNs retire, there are not enough new RNs to fill the open positions.
- The cost of training new RNs is going up. Many RNs graduate with over $70,000 of debt, which has dissuaded some students from pursuing a career as an RN. This has also led some US lawmakers to consider government grants for nursing students.
- By 2025 nearly 70 million Americans will be over the age of 65 and many will have chronic illnesses which will likely create more demand for RNs in the United States.
- Many more Americans have access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare); this too will cause more demand for medical treatment and the need for RNs.
The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of RNs will grow 16% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for other occupations. Job opportunities for RNs are expected to be good.