Nursing Trends

According to a July 2002 report by the Health Resources and Services Administration, 30 states were estimated to have shortages of registered nurses (RNs) in the year 2000.  The shortage is projected to intensify over the next two decades with 44 states plus the District of Columbia expected to have RN shortages by the year 2020.  The report, Projected Supply, Demand, and Shortages of Registered Nurses: 2000-2020 is available online at

 According to the latest projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published in the February 2004 Monthly Labor Review, more than one million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2012.  For the first time, the U.S. Department of Labor has identified Registered Nursing as the top occupation in terms of job growth through the year 2012.

 According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the number of first-time, U.S. educated nursing school graduates who sat for the NCLEX-RN, the national licensure examination for registered nurses, decreased by 20% from 1995-2003.
 According to American Hospital Association’s June 2001 Trend Watch, 126,000 nurses are needed now to fill vacancies at our nation’s hospitals.  Today, fully 75% of all hospital vacancies are for nurses.

 According to a study by Dr. Peter Buerhaus and colleagues published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on June 14, 2000, the U.S. will experience a 20% shortage in the number of nurses needed in our nation’s health care system by the year 2020.  This translates into a shortage of more than 400,000 RNs nationwide.

According to a July 2001 report released by the Government Accounting Office, Nursing Workforce:Emerging Nurse Shortages Due to Multiple Factors (GAO-01-944), “a serious shortage of nurses is expected in the future as demographic pressures influence both supply and demand.  The future demand for nurses is expected to increase dramatically as the baby boomers reach their 60s, 70s, and beyond.”

 According to a May 2001 report, Who Will Care for Each of Us?:  America’s Coming Health Care Crisis, released by the Nursing Institute at the University of Illinois College of Nursing, the ratio of potential caregivers to the people most likely to need care, the elderly population, will decrease by 40% between 2010 and 2030.  Demographic changes may limit access to health care unless the number of nurses and other caregivers grows in proportion to the rising elderly population.