Nursing Shortage Worsens as Retirement Wave Begins

The nursing shortage has gotten worse over the past five years, according to almost half of the nurses surveyed in AMN Healthcare’s 2017 Survey of Registered Nurses (RNs).

That’s much higher than those who said the same in 2015.

It’s only likely to get worse, as the survey’s findings suggest retirement among baby boomer nurses has already begun. In addition to heightening the existing nursing shortfall, the retirement by baby boomer nurses will particularly drain institutional knowledge and experience, according to the survey.


Retirement Wave Has Begun

Nurses planning to retire in a year or less clocked in at 36%, the survey found. Of the nurses who are planning to retire, 27% of them said they would do so in a year or less, compared with 16% of this population in 2015. More than half of RNs who indicated that they plan to retire said they would do so in three years or less.

“This means the national healthcare system will likely face a drain of knowledge and experience at unprecedented levels at a time when the aging population is growing and thus needing more care,” the survey said.


Of baby boomer nurses (age 54 or older) who are planning to retire, 73% said they will do so in three years or less.

Nursing Shortage Worsening

The retirements will exacerbate a nursing shortage that is already significant and growing. Nurses have taken notice, with 48% of nurses reporting the shortages are worse today than five years ago, compared with 37% who said so in 2015.

High turnover is also a major concern, especially given the strong demand for nurses. More than a third of the nurses surveyed agreed or strongly agreed when asked whether they frequently feel like resigning from their current positions, while 35% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “If I have my way, I will not be working in this job a year from now.”

When asked if they worried about nursing affecting their personal health, more than half of nurses agreed or strongly agreed, with younger nurses expressing the most concern.

“The impact of job duties on an employee’s health is a major concern, since it can lead to turnover, lower morale, and declining engagement,” the survey noted.

A majority of respondents, however, felt satisfied with the choice of nursing as a career, with 66% of respondents either agreeing or strongly agreeing that they would encourage others to become a nurse.

The survey was completed by 3,347 registered nurses, 53% of whom are hospital permanent staff. Seven percent of the responding nurses worked in the nursing home/extended care setting.

Written by Maggie Flynn

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