Is There Really A Nursing Shortage?

I have always thought yes.  This article claims that the nursing shortage is actually just a myth.  There are a lot of things in the article that just don’t jibe, though.

One thing that is interesting is that 43% of newly licensed RNs haven’t found a job 18 months after graduating.  This is interesting because it follows the same paradigm that is being reported in almost every other sector in America.  Companies are looking for employees, but they’re not looking for employees without experience even though what they are looking for are entry level positions.  This is likely just a short term correction due to the economy and I wouldn’t worry about this nearly as much as the author of the article seems to be.

The author then makes a claim that, even in the long run, there is not nursing shortage and that projections assume that nurses will perform the same functions that they do now.  He believes that nurses will be replaced by robots.  I have made the same argument when talking about replacing specialists like neurosurgeons, but I find it a bit unbelievable that the same can be said about nurses.  Nursing is mainly about interaction.  A lot can be inferred of a patient’s condition simply by observing and talking to the person.  I believe that, one day, robots will be able to perform such functions as well, but that day is far into the future.

I think, if anything, the nursing shortage is going to be greater than expected for the same reason they author claims there will be no nursing shortage.  The trend is certainly towards giving nurses more responsibilities, not less.  Therefore, the projections, if anything, underestimate the amount of nurses that will be needed in the future.

It is possible, of course, that there is a bit of Dust Bowl economics going on here.  Come to California!  Jobs for all!  Great wages!  Then people go only to find that everyone else had the same idea and the wages are barely livable if you can even find a job.  We certainly recently saw that with law school.  The difference here is that law schools almost certainly knew about the poor job market yet were continuing to inform law students that things were just dandy and the evidence was there if law students did some research.  The evidence seems to suggest that nurses will be in demand for quite some time and, thus, is a safe bet for now.  Chances are that it too will eventually suffer from Dust Bowl economics in the future.  That’s how job booms always seem to end up.