Recent Research About Nursing, July 2012

Two new studies look at the nursing workforce from different perspectives and reach similar conclusions: a major expansion of the workforce is on the way.

    • July 23, 2012

Study: Growth in Nursing Leading Way to 30 Percent Expansion of Health Care Workforce

A new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce projects that between 2010 and 2020, the nation’s health care workforce will grow by 30 percent to meet what is a “swelling demand for care.” During that period, an estimated 5.6 million job vacancies in the health care sector will be created. The growth is projected to be the most dramatic of any sector in the nation’s economy, the study says.

The lead author is Anthony P. Carnevale, PhD, director of the center.

“Demand for nursing and healthcare support occupations will expand rapidly,” Carnevale and colleagues write, “and shortages are in store…Nursing will grow the fastest among healthcare occupations, by 26 percent, but that won’t be enough to meet the demand. Barring some change, the shortfall will exceed 800,000 jobs.”

The study also predicts a trend toward “upskilling” in the nursing profession. The authors write, “[N]ursing care is becoming increasingly complex—a trend reflected in the higher education level of working nurses across time.”

The report predicts that the states with the highest rate of health care job growth will be Utah, Georgia, Texas, Virginia and Idaho.

Sharp Increase in Number of Nurse Practitioners Predicted by 2025

A new analysis projects that the number of nurse practitioners (NPs) in the United States will nearly double by 2025.

David I. Auerbach, MS, PhD, an economist with the RAND Corporation, studied the current and historical workforce of NPs, using a statistical tool that allowed him to project future growth. He concluded that the current workforce of approximately 128,000 NPs will swell by 94 percent over the next 15 years, and reach 244,000 in 2025.

“NPs will likely fulfill a substantial amount of future demand for care,” Auerbach writes in the July issue of Medical Care.

“There’s a lot of experimentation going on looking at different ways of working together, and there’s a lot of interest in collaborative team-based models,” he said in a story about the study in American Medical News, which is published by the American Medical Association. “The new care models such as the patient-centered medical home and accountable care organizations really depend on nurse practitioners and physician assistants.”

In addition, “people have gotten the message that becoming a nurse, and especially an NP, is a very good, solid career choice,” he says.