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Good News on the Workforce Front

December 07, 2011
1:15 pm

There are numerous concerns these days about the nation’s supply of medical professionals to meet America’s growing elderly population as well as the millions of citizens who will gain health coverage when the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented.  How will the healthcare workforce meet this rising patient demand?

We received good news this week regarding the supply of nurses.  A RAND study shows that the number of young nurses – registered nurses between the ages of 23 and 26 – has grown by 62 percent between 2002 and 2009.  This reverses a course projected back in 2000 by a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which said the U.S. would have a 20 percent shortfall in the supply of nurses by 2020.

Dr. Peter Buerhaus of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing (Colleen Conway-Welch, the nursing school’s dean, is a Healthcare Leadership Council member)  was one of the authors of the earlier JAMA study and told Nashville Public Radio that he’s no longer worried about a nursing shortage.  He credited more colleges adding nursing programs and successful initiatives raising awareness about personnel shortages and job openings in the nursing field.

Certainly programs like Johnson & Johnson’s Discover Nursing initiative have been extremely helpful in both pointing out the employment opportunities, available scholarships and job satisfaction in the nursing field.

This doesn’t ease all of our concerns about healthcare workforce shortages, but at least it’s a solid and important step in the right direction.

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