Growth in nursing force eases hospital pressures

The number of nurses in the United States is growing and could eventually meet the huge demand for the profession in the coming decades, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Hospitals could financially benefit from the industry's growth by hiring more permanent nurses and relying less on costly temporary and registry nurses. Using such registries often costs hospitals hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in additional expenses along with the cost of recruiting permanent hires.

According to a new survey by the RAND Corporation. published in Health Affairs, the number of nurses between the age of 23 and 26 grew from 102,000 in 2002 to 165,000 in 2009. Should the growth rate among the younger cohort of nurses continues to grow, the demand for new nurses could be met by 2030, the RAND study predicted.

In California, the number of graduates from nursing schools was 11,500 last year, up from 5,300 in 2002. Much of that growth was generated by coordinated efforts involving hospitals, not-for-profit foundations, and others to expand nursing school openings.

"Compared to where nursing supply was just a few years ago, the change is incredible," said David Auerbach, lead author of the study. "If it keeps going, it turns everything on its head and it's a major revolution."

For more information:
- read the Los Angeles Times article
- here's the study abstract