HHS, Ed. Dept. Launch Program to Combat Nursing Shortage
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and Education Secretary Rod Paige last week announced the start of "Kids into Health Careers," a program intended to encourage children to consider careers in the health care field, particularly nursing. As part of the program, participating schools will receive a "tool kit" that includes information on more than 270 health care professionals, including nurses, emergency medical technicians, X-ray technicians and physical therapists. The kits also include information on the level of education required for each career, salary projections and resources available to assist students studying for health care careers. "We have a severe nursing shortage in this country and it's absolutely critical that we encourage more of our nation's students to choose careers in nursing," Thompson said (HHS release, 2/22). More information on the "Kids into Health Careers" program can be found at www.bhpr.hrsa.gov/kidscareers/
The announcement of the "Kids into Health Careers" program coincided with the release of the 2000 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses. The survey found that the average age of RNs is increasing, while the number of new nurses entering the profession has declined over the past four years. The survey found:
- In 2000, 31.7% of RNs were under the age of 40, compared to 52.9% in 1980. In addition, less than 10% of nurses in 2000 were under the age of 30, compared to 26% in 1980.
- 12.3% of all active, licensed RNs reported being from one or more racial or ethnic minority backgrounds.
- Men made up 5.9% of all RNs in 2000, up from 5.4% in 1996.
- The number of nurses working in hospitals increased to 1,300,323 in 2000, up from 1,270,870 in 1996 (Spratley et. al., "The Registered Nurse Population, March 2000: Findings from the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses," 2/22). The complete results can be found at www.bhpr.hrsa.gov/healthworkforce/rnsurvey/rnss1.htm.