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.
“We are entering a dire situation,” said MedPro International Executive Vice President Patty Jeffrey, RN. “The pandemic pushed our workforce to the breaking point, and they’re still waiting for some relief. We must take action on multiple fronts to support nurses and maintain the quality of patient care.”
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 Becker’s 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 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, and in the 2022 annual American College of Healthcare Executives survey, responding CEOs listed workforce challenges as the top issue confronting hospitals.
Jeffrey recently traveled to Washington, D.C., with members of the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment to promote the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act of 2023. HWRA 2023 seeks to allow 25,000 RNs and 15,000 MDs per year to enter the U.S. by recapturing unused visas previously authorized by Congress. Additionally, HWRA 2023 would boost the domestic supply of nurses by implementing a fee paid by the U.S. employer (expected to generate $350 million over five years) to create a fund to be used directly by U.S. hospitals, health systems, and nursing schools to increase domestic numbers. “We had strong bipartisan support for HWRA last year. Lawmakers recognize that foreign-educated nurses are part of a multifaceted approach to solving this crisis,” said Jeffrey. According to the AAIHR, foreign-educated registered nurses comprise approximately 6 percent of the current nursing workforce. As the industry leader in the recruitment, training, and staffing of foreign-educated healthcare professionals, MedPro International assists facilities in filling core hospital positions that would remain unstaffed otherwise with qualified foreign-educated nurses. MedPro International and MedPro Healthcare Staffing are actively providing permanent and short-term workforce solutions for facilities nationwide.