Supply of Nurses Varies by Region, Study Finds

Mar 4, 2013, 9:00 AM

A regional analysis of the nursing workforce finds that the South and Midwest have a greater supply of registered nurses (RNs) available to fill positions when nurses retire or leave the workforce than other regions. The study, published in Nursing Economic$, found the South and Midwest have more young nurses to replace fewer older nurses than the Northeast and West.

“Expanding the size of the future RN workforce requires the number of entrants flowing into the workforce to exceed the number of nurses flowing out of the workforce,” the authors write.

In addition to surveying the age structure of the RN workforce, researchers used projection models to predict the nurses per capita in each region through 2030. They predict the South and Midwest will continue to see higher growth of RNs to U.S. residents than the Northeast and West.

The findings can help guide national and state health workforce planners, employers, educators, and others who are developing policies and initiatives to address nursing supply in their states, the study says. States in relatively slower RN growth regions might consider actions to recruit more entrants into the nursing workforce, increase efforts to educate policy-makers about their RN age structure, and examine their nursing education capacity.

The research was conducted by Peter Buerhaus, PhD, RN, FAAN, David Auerbach, PhD, MS, Douglas Staiger, PhD, and Ulrike Muench, PhD, RN.

Read the study.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.