how to fix the nursing shortage

The high demand for nurses in the United States has plagued the healthcare industry for years. Today, the number of registered nurses in America has reached a staggeringly low number for many reasons, including the COVID-19 pandemic. With the aging baby boomer generation and large population of chronically ill and high-risk patients, the current supply of nurses is insufficient to keep up with growing healthcare needs.

Our nation’s 4.2 million registered nurses provide quality care in nearly every healthcare setting, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, behavioral health centers, specialized medical facilities and other institutions.

The ongoing nursing shortage and staffing gaps are inevitably affecting patient care and safety as well as patient outcomes. The situation will only continue to get worse if steps are not taken to relieve the nursing workforce by recruiting newly qualified nurses and encouraging the expansion of training programs.

RNs play a very important role in evolving and improving our country’s healthcare system, yet their ability to implement or experiment with new healthcare methods is limited by chronically stretched resources.

What Caused the Current Nurse Staffing Crisis?

The nursing shortage has escalated in recent years due to several factors including:

  • The stress and fatigue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Nurse burnout and job dissatisfaction
  • Personal safety concerns
  • Inadequate nursing administration
  • Aging and retiring nurses
  • Overwhelmed nursing schools and programs
  • Shortage of educational opportunities (i.e., clinical placement, facilities, equipment, etc.)
  • Increased health care availability provided by the Affordable Care Act
  • Influx of nurses who choose to prioritize their personal and family goals over their careers

How Do Educational Opportunities Impact the Nursing Shortage?

It’s no secret that all aspiring nurses require an education to pursue a health career. The problem is that while the country is suffering a nursing shortage, the education system is also suffering from a nursing faculty shortage. This directly impacts the number of qualified students a nursing program can accept — limiting the number of nursing graduates taking certification exams and entering the field.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) 2021-2022 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing report, nursing schools turned away 91,938 qualified applications from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2021. While faculty shortages are the primary cause, the lack of classroom space, clinical sites and preceptors are also contributing factors.

In October 2022, the AACN released a Special Survey on Vacant Faculty Positions that identified a total of 2,166 full-time faculty vacancies across 909 nursing schools nationwide.

What Solutions Could Help Alleviate the Nursing Shortage?

Pinpointing just one fix that could make all the difference is nearly impossible given the variety of factors at play, but there are changes federal policymakers and organizations could make that might help encourage greater participation in the nursing workforce and training institutions like St. Louis College of Health Careers.

Long-term and short-term solutions might include:

  • Expanding the enrollment capacity of educational institutions to increase the number of graduates
  • Funding to help nursing schools grow their programs and pay for capital projects (i.e., buildings, classrooms, laboratories, equipment, etc.)
  • Increasing clinical placement opportunities for all nursing students from all backgrounds
  • Funding pathways that support nurses who have an Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN) and aspire to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Implementing tuition reimbursement programs for licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants to transition to registered nurses
  • Recruiting passionate nurses who intend to stay with their organizations
  • Improving nurse retention by creating an empowering, healthy work environment
  • Supporting a healthy work-life balance by providing nurses with flexibility, time off, etc.
  • Increasing nursing wages to ensure fair compensation for their valuable time, skills and expertise

Graduate With Your LPN Diploma from St. Louis College of Health Careers in Missouri

Resolving the nursing shortage in America is a lofty goal that won’t happen overnight, but you can be a part of the solution. If you are passionate about people and interested in a career in the healthcare industry, our accredited Practical Nursing, Diploma program may be for you. We combine hands-on practice with rigorous academics to equip students with the tools they need to pass certification exams and enter the nursing workforce.

Graduates of St. Louis College of Heath Careers move on to find work at hospitals, residential care facilities, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, clinics and more.

Learn more about our LPN program or explore other healthcare degrees by calling 866-529-2070.

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