The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.
In recent years, we have seen growth in the number of people entering nursing programs to receive their Registered Nurse license and Bachelor of Science in Nursing. A high level of replacement positions, the increasing needs of the baby boomer generation, and the Affordable Care Act are all factors in the sudden rise in the desirability of RN and RN to BSN programs.
Positions Become Available as the Work Force Retires
Over half of the nursing workforce is close to retirement age. And the average age of working nurses is 46, meaning that a great percentage of the remaining workforce is set to retire in the not-too-distant future. According to estimates by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, replacement nursing positions will number in the hundreds of thousands, approximately 525,000, by 2022.
When you factor in job growth along with replacement positions, the total number of open nursing positions would be nearly 1.05 million by 2022. At no other time have nursing positions been in such high demand.
The Baby Boomer Generation Hits Retirement
After WWII, the United States experienced a baby boom, which is a period of time with elevated birth rates. Being born between 1946 and 1964, many of these people have entered, or will soon enter, retirement age. As this large group of people age, their healthcare needs increase.
As we age, health issues tend to increase, which prompts people to use more health services. The number of aging people in this country is growing, and they need increasingly more healthcare, which drives up the need for nursing professionals.
Greater Demand due to Health Care Reform
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act. It is arguably the greatest change to our healthcare system since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. This healthcare reform provided healthcare to millions of Americans who had previously been without insurance. In fact, approximately 20 million Americans have received coverage under the Act since May of 2014, and the rate of uninsured Americans has dropped 4.6%.
The demand for healthcare is now extremely high and is straining the current workforce, which is another reason this sector will see exponential growth over the next several years.
Easy Access to Education
Since there is such a large shortage of Registered Nurses, many colleges now offer accelerated nursing programs online. Online course work, in combination with clinical experience, readies the next generation of Registered Nurses and BSN holders for the job market. Easy online access to education is viewed as a great benefit by many people who are looking to get into the nursing field. It is also beneficial to registered nurses who are going back to school to further their education by working toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
For many professionals already in the nursing industry, furthering their education is also a lucrative investment. The medical field is always looking for highly qualified professionals with a high level of education, and they are willing to pay well for those qualified individuals.
In sum, there is currently a high demand for RN and BSN positions due to an overall increase in demand due to a retiring workforce, the retirement of the baby boomers and healthcare reform. Education is more accessible than ever before and current wages for qualified individuals are certainly an incentive.