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Back To Vidyya New York Study Predicts Growing Nurse Shortage

Researchers Found A 25 Percent Decline In RN Graduates

New York joins California as the second state to confirm a growing shortage of registered nurses, according to a recently published Health Resources and Services Administration-supported study. Researchers found a 25 percent decline in RN graduates--about 1,900 per year--from New York nursing schools between 1995 and 2000. The researchers reported that health care providers in the state are beginning to experience difficulty in meeting their service delivery needs because of the decreasing nurse supply, and that demand is likely to remain steady or increase.

"This study adds to the evidence we’ve gathered about the potential for a nationwide nurse shortage, and presents serious consequences for the nation’s health care system," said HRSA Administrator Claude Earl Fox, M.D., M.P.H. "A supply of appropriately educated nurses is essential for an effective health care system."

The study, Meeting Future Nursing Needs of New Yorkers: A Study of Registered Nursing in New York State, was conducted by researchers at the Center for Health Workforce Studies, State University of New York-Albany, which receives funding from the National Center for Health Workforce Information and Analysis in HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions.

Other findings from the study include:

  • While the total supply of RNs may have been adequate in 1998 and 1999, there were unfilled vacancies for nurses with specific skills or experience. For example, hospitals in New York City reported significant difficulty in recruiting peri-operative, critical care and emergency room nurses.

  • Because the number of new RNs is decreasing while the demand appears to be constant or increasing, the RN shortage is likely to grow over the next few years.

  • Of the recently licensed RNs from New York state programs, the average age was 32 years. The average age is 34 for recently licensed RNs from associate degree programs and 29 for RNs from baccalaureate nursing programs. The age of entry into nursing has increased over the past decade, which in the long run may reduce the supply of active RNs.

  • Recently licensed RNs showed 12.7 percent for African Americans and 4.9 percent for Hispanic/Latino individuals, which fell short of their representation in the general population of 17.7 percent and 14.4 respectively.

"Our study found that, at a time when deans of nursing programs are reporting more job opportunities for graduates and employers statewide are reporting more difficulty recruiting nurses with specific skills, nursing school graduations are dropping sharply," said Edward S. Salsberg, M.P.A., CHWS director. "We concluded that RN shortages are likely to increase over the next few years, and steps must be taken to increase enrollment in nursing programs and to spread the word about nursing opportunities."

In addition to the nursing study, CHWS recently published two other HRSA-funded health workforce studies. Residency Training Outcomes by Specialty in 1999 for New York State highlighted an annual survey of physicians completing training in New York. This study found that New York trains more physicians than any other state, and as a result, the job market for physicians was generally good and demand was equal to or slightly better than in 1998. Trends in the Supply and Demand for Health Workers in New York City presented the results of a health workforce tracking system which monitors trends in the supply and demand for health workers in the city. The report documents that after two years of minor declines, total New York City health care employment began to rise in 1998.

Copies of the studies are available from HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions’ National Center for Health Workforce Information and Analysis by calling 301-443-6920 or from the State University of New York-Albany Center for Health Workforce Studies by calling 518-402-0250. They are also available on the World Wide Web at http://chws.albany.edu.


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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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