Free Nurses Shortage in the US Sample Essay

Free Nurses Shortage in the US Sample Essay


The present shortage of registered nurses (RNs) has eased since the late 1990s. While much has been done to remedy the situation, a lot still needs to be done about employing more nurses and improving work conditions.  According to available statistics, earnings and employment for RNs immensely increased starting from 2002. Sixty-seven per cent of the increase emanated from  RNs, who had stayed in the field for some time. The remainder came from nurses who had been born in foreign countries. The hiring response old aged employees and expatriates shows how the labor market could respond to shortages in future (Buerhaus et al., 2013 p.192). Besides, it emphasizes the problems of facing policymakers as the RN personnel grows old and ultimately shrink in size. Reports indicate that novel nursing graduates are unable to get jobs, declining hospital RN job opportunities rates, among other issues. The reports suggest that present shortage of RNs could be ending, though. Does it mean that there are now significant changes regarding the nurse labor markets? Previous works analyzed earnings and employments trends of nursing staff.  The paper examines modern trends in RN earnings and employment and discusses what the trends imply regarding the present RN shortage and future implications of the issue.



Hospitals began experiencing the present shortage of nurses. Nevertheless, in contrast to the shortage that began in the 1990s, the shortage took a while to get resolved.  The shortage has lingered till to date. The shortage began as a result of workplace, social, economic, and demographic forces that accumulated in from the early 1990s. Since there was no source of the problems, there has never been a single solution. Hospitals, as well as other concerned parties, did develop some initiatives in reaction to triggers of the shortage of RNs. Hospitals began retention and recruitment programs; they used more traveling and temporary RNs to increase staffing levels, inflated float pools, and forged new relationships with home nursing facilitation programs. As a result, they employed more nurses, offered bonuses, and started taking viable initiatives to enhance working environments for nurses.

Education programs for nurses increased, funding for scholarships and grants increased. Even the minority groups and men were included (12% and 5.4% respectively (Buerhaus et al., 2013 p.193). The public sector has also been active. By 2012, 24 states had initiated workforce commissions for nurses, and another 24 started loan repayment initiatives. Mandatory overtime was scrapped off.  Congress also came in handy by expanding and revising Title VIII of the Public Health Services Act through the addition of provisions to expand career ladders, residencies and nurse internships. Hospitals were encouraged to develop best practices. Health care associations, as well as interested groups, developed significant initiatives to reduce present and likely future nursing shortage (Buerhaus et al., 2013 p.194)


To ascertain whether any significant trends have materialized in the last few years, data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) was used to form and assess national estimates of yearly RN earnings and employment. The CPS offers a huge representative sample of nursing workforce for many years and has been used previously to assess nurse earnings and employment.  The US Bureau of Statistics administers the CPS every month. Researchers and the Labor Department to forecast present trends in earnings and employment also use it. It covers a countrywide representative data representing over 100,000 people. Monthly, researchers ask a quarter of the sample regarding present employment status, industry, occupation, hours worked and earnings. Free Nurses Shortage in the US Sample Essay.

The data offer many advantages compared to other data used to assess nursing workforce.  Particularly, CPS represents accurate sour of yearly data within reach of all nurses employed in hospitals and other places.  The data analyzed included everyone aged between 21 and 64. Those surveyed reported their careers as RNS between 2004 and 2012 (N-28,561). Hourly wage was calculated as the quotient of weekly earnings and weakly hours.  Due to inflation, wages were revised employing the Consumer Price Index for goods in metropolitan areas (CPI-U). Employment was estimated as fulltime equivalents. Full-time employment was defined as working for more than 30 hours in one week.  Due to large samples of data used, estimates had standard errors of at most 2%.

Findings and Discussion

Total hiring rate of RNS between 2004 and 2012 increased by about 17%. Although positive, the growth rate represented 50% of the value for the previous decade. RN employment was calculated by the Bureau of Health Professionals and was found to be 6% lower than requirements by 2000. As such, reports of shortage in the 2000s were constant with the slowdown in the rate of employment compared to a constant growth of demand for RNs. On the other hand, growth in inflation-adjusted RN earnings was fundamentally flat in 2011. Come 2012, though, actual earnings nearly increased by 5%. The sharp increase in earnings reflects the rise in demand for Registered Nurses that began between 2011 and 2012, together with rising collective bargaining actions as well as several labor strikes. Besides, between 2011 and 2012 earnings of RNs in hospitals increased (4.9%) (Buerhaus et al., 2013 p.195). This was 200% the rate of RN earnings in nonhospital institutions, suggesting that the increase in demand was specifically overwhelming in hospitals. Many reasons could explain the observation: Whereas no national statistics regarding utilization are available, hospital expenses increased in 2011 and 2012, suggesting that the need for hospitals services could have risen. It could also have been possible that hospitals hired extra RNs in reaction to media interest over findings showing a correlation between decreased nursing staffing and serious patient outcomes. Free Nurses Shortage in the US Sample Essay.

Correspondingly, hospitals could have foreseen the rising costs connected to decreased RN staffing, concerning the public image and the dollar. Such an observation could have manifested through long waiting hours, canceled or postponed surgery, delays in hospital discharges, and the failure to staff key services and programs.  The increase in demand for Registered Nurses in 2012 is pronounced when general trends in RN hiring are narrowed down into nonhospital and hospital settings. In each year between 2004 and 2012, RN hiring in hospital settings increased at an alarming rate than in hospital settings (Buerhaus et al., 2013 p.197). Nevertheless, the trend reversed from 2012, as comparable to previous trends from 2011. The addition of over 100,000 RNs in 2011 represented an increase of 9%. RN hiring is nonhospital environments decreased approximately by 1% in 2012.

Evidently, the rise in earnings in 2012 provided an economic spur for some Registered Nurses to reenter the labor market; others switched from part-time jobs to full-time, or they preferred to work overtime.  Extra significant changes besides wage increments had a great impact on many Registered Nurses in 2012 and were responsible for the notable improvement in hiring. This was a major shift from 2011 when the national economy nearly stalled.  Regrettably, data from the CPS do not provide information for identifying the subset of RNs born in other countries or those who graduated in nursing from countries besides the US (Buerhaus et al., 2013 p.196). The approximated number of expatriate RNs resulting from the CPS is almost 300% larger than approximated number of outside nurse graduates employed in the US retrieved from the National Survey of Registered Nurses. As such, employment growth in the group fails to reflect a rise in a number of expatriate nurse graduates employed in the US. Free Nurses Shortage in the US Sample Essay.

From the 2000s until 2011, hiring among RNs born in other countries rose by 6% every year, perhaps quicker than for indigenous RNs considered wholly. The rate of growth was also faster than the rate of other age groups examined. In 2012, hiring of foreign-born Registered nurses rose by 13.8% (or 35,523 RNs), almost as fast as the growth rate of domestic Registered Nurses aged beyond fifty. Further investigation indicates that 42% of the rise in foreign-born Registered Nurses took place among RNs entering the US after 2006 (Buerhaus et al., 2013 p.194). Collectively, RNs aged beyond fifty and RNs born in foreign countries practically explain all increases in RN hiring in both hospital and non-hospital settings in 2012. Again, the analysis of RN hiring growth by the status of marriage indicates that almost all the increase in RNs hiring between 2011 and 2012 happened among Registered Nurses who were married. Between 2004 and 2011, the yearly employment rate was somewhat lower among Registered Nurses who were married (2.2%). During the same period, however, hiring among RNs, who were married increased by more than 7%, while hiring among unmarried Registered Nurses increase by at most 1%. In fact, whereas married RNs contribute to about 70% of the labor force, they contributed to 94% of the rise in hiring between 2011 and 2012 (Buerhaus et al., 2013 p.198). Free Nurses Shortage in the US Sample Essay.


The nurse shortage witnessed in the recent past as well as the market response has significant implications for the future as far as hiring and retention of nurses are concerned.  Whereas the persistence of the present nursing shortage may rely on whether there is an improvement in the economy of whether unforeseen shocks in the healthcare sector exists, the current trends in Registered Nurses’ earnings and employment reflect significant fundamental forces that are likely to persist. Hiring and retaining nurses will require improved remuneration, bonuses and change in policies. Free Nurses Shortage in the US Sample Essay.

Free Nurses Shortage in the US Sample Essay






Buerhaus, P. I., Staiger, D. O., & Auerbach, D. I. (2013). Is the current shortage of hospital nurses ending? Health Affairs22(6), 191-198. Retrieved from: Free Nurses Shortage in the US Sample Essay.