Experts predict that the supply of registered nurses (RNs) will increase slowly through 2007, plateau, and then decline as more and more RNs begin retiring each year (see Figure 1 below). The demand for nurses will, however, accelerate through 2020, creating an ever larger gap between supply and demand: approximately 150,000 in 2005, 275,000 in 2010, 507,000 in 2015, and 808,000 in 2020.
Experts also agree that Congress and the states must act quickly to avert the crisis in patient care and safety that such gaps would produce. Increasing the capacity to educate more RNs is a major priority, but other steps are needed. This inaugural issue of Charting Nursing's Future offers concrete examples of partnerships that are already getting positive results.