Projected Nursing Shortages: What You Need to Know

We’ve talked about the healthcare shortage a few times on SkillGigs and today we are going to do an in-depth breakdown of what can be expected for nurses in the fast-approaching future.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that LPNs, RNs, and CNAs all are expected to grow in demand by over 10% by 2026.

Also, the future does not look promising for public health as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a decline in life expectancy for the third year in a row, a first since 1915-1918.

This sounds like a perfect storm, and the question is, how does the industry plan to deal with this?

According to the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis in 2030, the minimum number of nurses needed will be around 3.6 million. This is a significant jump from the 2.8 million needed in 2017. The shortage is expected to be widespread nationwide with few states unaffected. The most affected states include California, Texas, New Jersey, and Alaska while Florida, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Wyoming are expected to have a surplus of nurses.

California comes out on the bottom with the most significant deficit of available nurses at nearly 45,000. The next deficit is Texas at only 15,900, almost three times smaller than the shortage in California. California is also one of the only states with no plans to join the NLC (Nurse Licensure Compact) a multi-state agreement that allows cross-border practice through an NLC multi-state license. There’s much speculation that this is because California is one of the most expensive and complicated states to obtain a license. Historically shortages have changed the minds of legislators when it comes to the NLC, but these can take years to pass. Texas and South Carolina both have deficits of over 10,000 but are both in the NLC so nurses from other states can fill the vacant positions easier. New Jersey also has a predicted shortage of over 10,000 and has recently passed legislation and is awaiting a Governor’s signature.

Florida is expected to have the largest surplus of available nurses at over 50,000 nurses, and Ohio is close behind with an excess of over 49,000 nurses. A surplus can be just as harmful as a shortage as the lower demand can lead to reduced salaries, benefits, and even unemployment. Nurses in Florida always have the option to travel to other states and seek higher-paying jobs due to Florida joining the NLC. However, Ohio has recently stated its standing by its 2005 decision to remain outside of the NLC so how the surplus will affect Ohio is unsure. How about projected growth, though?

California is expected to add over 100,000 nursing jobs by 2030. Texas is projected to add around 88,000 and Florida 69,400. These numbers don’t add up to the increase in nurses available planned for 2030. In Florida, there are not enough jobs opening for nurses and California does not have enough nurses for the available jobs. With the shortages, hospitals may find themselves in competition, trying to attract nurses from other states to travel to their state. States with surplus nurses might be the ones to find themselves in highly competitive job hunts. Let’s see which states have the highest and lowest wages according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Naturally, states with a higher cost of living provide higher salaries mostly west coast states like California and Oregon. Surprisingly, South Dakota ranks last at $55,660 even with the projected shortage. So, if growth can’t keep up with demand and the money does not exceed the cost of living enough to attract outside talent, what else can these states do?

We’ve talked about the NLC and the multi-state license a couple of times and for the moment it seems to be the best solution to the looming problem. But what is it? The NLC is a group of states in agreement to honor a single multi-state license, so rather than having to obtain a license to practice in each state you work in you’d only apply for one that can travel and be valid in every state under the NLC. This saves nurses large amounts of time and money and allows them to travel to the highest-paying positions.

READ Why You Should Try Travel Nursing

As of right now, there are currently 31 compact states soon to grow to 34. Moreover, as the benefits become more and more apparent, we expect that number to grow, and this probable crisis will someday sound more like an alarmist theory.