RNs Delaying Retirement, Confounding Shortage Predictions


According to a RAND Corp. study, registered nurses are not retiring as quickly as expected, which may have implications for where and how a portion of the nursing workforce is employed in their extended careers, according to a report from Kaiser Health News.

A decade ago, researchers predicted the RN workforce would peak in 2012 at 2.2 million nurses. Instead, the nurse workforce reached 2.7 million in 2012 and has continued to grow. In 2012 alone, nurses delaying retirement accounted for nearly 140,000 nurses in the workforce, according to the report.

Nurses are remaining employed both because of economic pressures and job satisfaction, according to the report. The greater than expected number of nurses over the age of 50 in the workforce may translate to nontraditional employment options for those nurses, who may move out of hospital settings and become employed in other networks of care, according to the report. In turn, hospitals may employ younger nurses and establish technical programs such as nurse residencies, according to David Auerbach, the study's lead author.

A potential consequence of the larger than expected nursing workforce: a shortage of nursing jobs. Nursing schools have increased the number of nurses they turn out over the past decade, but there may be fewer open nursing jobs as older nurses continue to delay retirement.

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