Nursing Shortage Improves as a Result of the Economy

Around 250,000 nurses entered the work force from 2007-2008, many who re-entered the field after a spouse lost a job or benefits, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

This 18 percent increase in nurses marks the largest two-year increase in thirty years, according to a study in Health Affairs. Around 50 percent of the increase came from nurses over age 50, and according to the report, there was a third more working nurses ages 21-34 with children under the age of 6 in 2008 than in the previous year.

Adding to easing the nursing shortage are efforts to expand nursing schools, attract more young people into the field and improve working conditions. Also, more foreign-born nurses are entering the work force; 16.3 percent of the total nursing work force were foreign born last year, compared with 9 percent in 1994, according to the report.

However, the increase does not mean that the nursing shortage will be relieved permanently. Long-term projections still show that the gap will widen over the next 10 years as the economy improves and the aging work force retires. According to the report, a nurse shortage of 260,000 is likely in 2020, a quarter less than what was originally predicted.

Read the Wall Street Journal's report about the improving nursing shortage.

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