Between the years 2010 and 2030, the population of elderly Americans is expected to double. The need for healthcare services steadily increases as the population ages. The nursing shortage results from both the demand for additional nursing services for the aging population and factors that affect the supply of nurses. Hospitals will lose experienced nurses to retirement at a point when the demand on the healthcare system will be dramatically increasing. The shortage of RN’s in the US could reach 500,000 by the year 2025. Premature retirement of experienced nurses is a significant contributor to this problem. It becomes imperative that stakeholders create measures to assure the retention of older and experienced nurses in the workforce.
With the imbalance in supply and demand and the inability to lessen the demand, we must look toward bolstering the supply. Experts in the field identify three primary paths toward increasing the number of nurses in the workforce:
- Raising the number of nursing students enrolled in nursing programs and ensuring their matriculation.
- Retaining nurses at all stages of their profession, from new graduates through older nurses.
- Re-engaging nurses in direct care roles who have retired or otherwise left the nursing workforce and/or attract foreign nurses.
This toolkit and facilitators' manual was produced by Pitt County Memorial Hospital in rural eastern North Carolina during its Wisdom at Work project, , with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This abbreviated version contains the entire table of contents for the full manual and information on how to acquire it for interested readers.