American Nurses Association Celebrates National Nurses Week; 1.1 Million More RNs Needed

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With 1.1 million registered nurse jobs projected to be filled by 2022 and nursing colleges struggling to attract enough faculty and accommodate students, the American Nurses Association recommends actions to avoid nursing shortages. National Nurses Week from May 6-12 recognizes the need for more nurses, and their contributions and leadership in improving the quality of health care and patient outcomes.

RN Help Wanted: 1.1 Million Nurse Jobs to Fill by 2022

We acknowledge nurses’ vast contributions, as well as the need to develop the nursing workforce to meet our growing needs and improve the health of the nation.

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National Nurses Week traditionally is a time to recognize the crucial contributions registered nurses (RN) make to individuals’ health and the U.S. health care system; this year, it’s also a time to sound a note of urgency about the future, as projections signal the need to fill about 1.1 million RN jobs by 2022.

The 2014 National Nurses Week theme is “Nurses: Leading the Way,” emphasizing nurses’ roles in improving the quality of health care; participating as key members of collaborative, performance-based health care teams; and continually advocating to ensure patients remain the focal point of health care. National Nurses Week takes place May 6-12, ending on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

“All nurses are leaders, whether they are in direct patient care, administrative roles, or meeting consumers’ needs in new roles such as care coordinators or wellness coaches,” said ANA President Karen A. Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN. “This week, we acknowledge nurses’ vast contributions, as well as the need to develop the nursing workforce to meet our growing needs and improve the health of the nation.”

As nurses assume more leadership roles in a system that is transforming its focus to emphasize primary care, prevention, wellness, chronic disease management, and coordination of care, a confluence of factors is driving the need for a huge increase in the number of RNs. About 11 million individuals have gained better access to health care through private health insurance marketplaces and the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act; Baby Boomers are projected to swell Medicare rolls by 50 percent by 2025; and 53 percent of nurses are over age 50 and nearing retirement, according to a National Council of State Boards of Nursing survey.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 1.1 million jobs for nurses between 2012 and 2022 – more than 500,000 each for newly created jobs and replacements for retiring nurses. Registered nurse is ranked second in projected new job growth among all occupations from 2012 to 2022, with 527,000 new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To achieve that level of growth, ANA recommends four actions:

  •     Increase funding for federal Nursing Workforce Development Programs (known as Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act, which marks its 50th anniversary this year). Funding generally has stayed level in recent years for these programs that assist in educating, training, and placing new nurses in areas of need.
  •     Recruit more nursing professors and increase incentives. Nursing faculty salaries generally are lower than what many faculty members could earn in clinical practice (an average of $68,640 compared to more than $91,000 for nurse practitioners). Many nursing professors also are nearing retirement age – nearly 3 of 4 are over age 50 – and will need to be replaced.
  •     Ensure an adequate number of clinical training sites so nursing students can fulfill educational requirements.
  •     Encourage hospitals and other employers to hire new nursing graduates now to benefit from mentoring from experienced RNs, and to mitigate the impact of the projected exodus of seasoned RNs in the coming years.

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Adam Sachs
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American Nurses Association
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