(HealthcareFinanceNews) The number of young people entering the nursing profession is surging, providing relief from the recent nursing shortage, according to an article in the December issue of Health Affairs.
In the article, “Registered Nurse Supply Grows Faster Than Projected Amid Surge in New Entrants Ages 23-26,” authors David I. Auerbach, Peter I. Buerhaus and Douglas O. Staiger report that the number of full-time registered nurses ages 23-26 increased by 62 percent between 2002 and 2009.
“If these young nurses follow the same life-cycle employment patterns as those who preceded them – as they appear to be thus far – then they will be the largest cohort of registered nurses ever observed,” the authors wrote in the article.
“Though we don’t know the exact combination of forces that are acting to cause this, it seems to be a combination of economic uncertainty and a decline in manufacturing jobs, modifications to nursing schools making it easier and more convenient to become an RN, private initiatives such as Johnson & Johnson’s campaign for Nursing’s Future and government attention such as additional funds for training,” said Auerbach, PhD, one of the article’s authors, a policy researcher at Santa Monica, Calif.-based research firm RAND Corporation.
“We were surprised (by the findings) because the numbers of new RNs had been low for such a long time that it was hard to imagine the world changing enough, and so quickly, to bring them back up,” added Auerbach.
“I believe it reflects the real perception that nursing is an attractive career choice for those seeking predicted employment stability, challenging work, varied work setting opportunities, flexibility in work schedules, as well as, geographic mobility,” said Susan Reese, chief nurse executive at Chelmsford, Mass.-based workforce management firm Kronos. “It also reflects the expansion of nursing education programs that have enabled the increase to be supported.”
But the increase also poses problems, said Reese.
“The new problem that arises is on-boarding these new nurses,” said Reese. “Even today, new graduates are struggling to find employers that are willing and/or able to invest in them, preferring instead to hire a seasoned and experienced nurse over a new graduate. Should the numbers of new graduates continue to rise, organizations will need to address the on-boarding and resource commitment to the development of the new graduate nurse as a fully capable, competent and contributing team member. This is not an inexpensive task.”
As a result of the significant increase in young nurses entering the profession, rather than declining as previously projected, the registered nurse workforce is now expected to grow at roughly the same rate as the population through 2030. “Our ‘optimistic’ scenario in the paper represents a continuation of the trend, but at a slightly lesser rate of increase,” said Auerbach.