Nursing shortage: Some progress, but challenges remain


As the healthcare industry’s nursing shortage continues, progress has been made--and challenges still remain, according to a new blog post.

Edward Salsberg, a healthcare workforce researcher and health services research professor at George Washington University, writes in a blog post for Health Affairs that the number of newly educated registered nurse appears to be leveling off compared to several years of history growth. However, the number of new diploma-prepared nurses continued to decline, according to the blog.

He writes that progress in growing the number of nurses varies across communities, and some may see a surplus of nurses while others will continue to see a shortage.

“One implication is that efforts to spur future growth of the pipeline should be targeted to specific communities, rather than across all communities,” Salsberg writes.

He also points to success, however slow, in building the number of nurses that are entering the medical field with a bachelor’s degree. Trends suggest that half of nurses in the near future will enter the workforce with a bachelor’s degree, according to Salsberg. Reports have called for up to 80 percent of the nursing workforce to have a degree, but Salsberg writes that mark is still a ways off.

One area where the U.S. nursing workforce still lags behind is encouraging foreign-educated nurses to enter the industry. In 2015, only 5 percent of nurses graduated internationally, compared with 23 percent of physicians who were entering graduate medical education in the U.S. after graduating from another level of study abroad. However, the U.S. is part of the World Health Organization’s Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, preventing it from taking too many healthcare workers from underdeveloped countries.