Sustained Rise in Nursing Students Could End Shortage
A continued increase in nursing school graduates could eliminate California's nursing shortage within 10 to 15 years, but those efforts could be hampered by an aging population and a shortage of instructors, according to a recent study by UC-San Francisco's Center for California Health Workforce Studies, the Oakland Tribune reports.
Researchers found that the number of nursing school graduates in California has increased by 73% over the last five years.
According to the Tribune, nursing schools in California must continue to graduate more nurses to meet the growing demand from aging baby boomers.
Meanwhile, the high rate of nurses nearing retirement age has added to the urgency for more graduates. A report last year by the Board of Registered Nurses found that 45% of nurses with active California licenses were older than 50.
A shortage of nursing instructors will make it more difficult to sustain the growth in nursing programs. Teaching wages that are lower than pay for nurses working in other settings have steered many nurses toward other positions. As a result, colleges relying on temporary grants have been forced to downsize their programs.
Joanne Spetz, lead researcher of the study, contended that lawmakers can sustain the growth in nursing programs by ensuring long-term funding to programs with temporary grants (Rahim, Oakland Tribune, 11/26).
The report is available online (.pdf).
The report's findings are "good news in an industry where overtime and exhaustion are rampant," a Los Angeles Daily News editorial states. An impending nursing shortage "is one crisis, we can hope, that may well be averted," according to the Daily News (Los Angeles Daily News, 11/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.