Revisiting the Nursing Shortage Question

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Revisiting the Nursing Shortage Question

The forecast for California is not clear

By Working Nurse
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Healthcare pundits remain preoccupied with nursing shortages: whether they’re coming and how bad they’ll get. The School of Nursing & Health Studies at Georgetown University recently created a map of projected shortages that shows California in the red by 2025, but is the picture really that bad?

West Coast Shortages

Surprisingly, the Georgetown map, based on 2014 projections by the federal Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW), forecasts that much of the country will actually have overall nursing surpluses by 2025. Only 16 states are marked in red to indicate a projected deficit, including Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and California. As dire as the map looks, the projected shortfall for California isn’t huge. Those figures suggest a 2025 California RN workforce of 389,900 full-time equivalents (FTEs) against a demand for 393,600 FTEs. For a state the size of California, a shortage like that would be no cause for panic.

Competing Numbers

State officials’ own projections aren’t as encouraging. The California Employment Development Department (EDD) projects a slower rate of growth for the state’s RN workforce, which EDD expects to reach only 300,300 FTEs by 2024. For comparison, the BRN estimates the 2015 figure at 264,199 FTEs. What about future demand? There’s no one approach to calculating healthcare workforce demand, but in a 2015 report for the BRN, UCSF health policy Professor Joanne Spetz, Ph.D., FAAN, presented four different models that project 2025 demand at anywhere from about 280,000 FTEs to more than 360,000. (Spetz’s own model predicts a 2025 RN workforce of 330,707 FTEs.)

Depending on which numbers turn out to be correct, California might face a much bigger shortage than any other state — or we might end up with a surplus!  The bottom line is that in the coming years, policymakers and healthcare administrators should definitely not take RN workforce planning, recruitment and retention for granted.  

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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