The state of the nursing workforce: 9 figures to know

Many of the struggles that strained the nursing profession in years prior continued to do so in 2023, perhaps unsurprisingly to some. Multiple surveys on the profession this year highlighted continued staffing issues, burnout, nurses wanting to leave the profession, lacking feelings of support from hospitals and a range of other issues.

With a growing nursing shortage, projected to continue through 2030, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects there will be an average of 194,500 annual openings in the nursing profession until that time. 

Retirement rates of nurses in the baby boomer generation are happening at a faster pace than incoming nurses can replace are expected to further contribute to the overall shortage, according to the American Nurses Association

But there are other factors too, several surveys found, that may deter prospective and even current nurses from entering or staying in the profession. 

The pandemic put even more strain on front-line workers, and since then many have felt unprepared for similar health crises in the future and unsupported by their employers, a January survey from the American Nurses Foundation reported. 

Feelings of unpreparedness and a lack of support in jobs are commonly associated with reasons for departure, which was also reflected in several surveys on the nursing profession in 2023. Not only are 85% of nurses planning to leave their roles in the next year, according to a survey of more than 18,000 nurses conducted by AMN Healthcare, but a separate survey from the ANA found that 43% of nurses report the desire to leave the nursing profession entirely. 

On top of that, fewer than half of nurses — 45% — report being "fully engaged" in their work, a separate survey published in September found.

Some nurses have also reported widespread challenges culturally in their hospital settings. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation revealed in June that 80% of nurses report that they have directly witnessed or experienced discrimination from patients, and 60% from their own colleagues.

Nurse leaders have identified possible solutions to increase retention and boost nurse wellness like hospitals investing in nurse residency programs, increasing pay, and having flexible scheduling, so nurses can more easily take time off when they need it most. Despite efforts from hospitals, some of these efforts are still falling short. 

Nurse residency programs help with the retention of newer nurses as they transition from school to practice with robust support, but 55% of respondents to a LinkedIn poll told Becker's they feel that their hospital lacks a strong nurse residency program. 

It is not all doom and gloom, though. Many nurses still love what they do. In fact, 60% said just that in a survey led by But with an additional 91% responding in the same survey that they feel the nursing crisis is worsening, looking to longer-term solutions for this workforce population will be critical in 2024 and beyond.

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