A recent study paints a bleak picture of the future of U.S. healthcare, revealing that the nursing shortage will reach unprecedented levels. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and the National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, approximately 800,000 registered nurses plan to leave the workforce by 2027. This is in addition to the already 100,000 RNs who left during the COVID-19 pandemic. Combined, they represent one-fifth of the 4.5 million nurses working in the U.S. healthcare system.
NCSBN shared its findings during a panel discussion at the National Press Club last week. Maryann Alexander, Ph.D., RN, chief officer of nursing regulation at the NCSBN, told Beckers that the study’s results were greater than anticipated. “We did not expect to see data that clearly indicates we are headed towards a national healthcare crisis,” Alexander said. She added that 24 percent of the nurses who plan to leave are “new, younger nurses.” According to NCSBN findings, one-quarter to half of the nurses reported feeling “emotionally drained,” and 45 percent were “burned out.”
- Approximately 100,000 registered nurses left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years due to stress and burnout.
- An additional 610,388 RNs reported an “intent to leave” the workforce by 2027.
- 188,962 additional RNS under the age of 40 reported similar intentions.
- One-fifth of RNs nationally are projected to leave the workforce.
The data comes in the wake of multiple studies sounding an alarm about the crisis. In the 2022 annual American College of Healthcare Executive survey, responding CEOs listed workforce challenges as the top issue confronting hospitals, and in an American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment’s (AAIHR) annual survey, a majority of foreign-educated nurses said they would consider resigning if ongoing staffing shortages were not addressed. According to the AAIHR, foreign-educated registered nurses comprise approximately 6 percent of the current nursing workforce.
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