The Current State of the Nursing Shortage in the US

Healthcare in the US is experiencing an unprecedented nursing shortage

The gap between the supply of nurses and the demand for their services is a multi-faceted problem. Is this nursing shortage different from the nursing shortages reported in the early 2000s? The simple answer is yes, and the pandemic is intensifying and accelerating the impact.

Hospitals cannot function without nurses. They are the core of the patient care team and comprise the largest occupation within health care with more than three times as many Registered Nurses (RNs) as physicians. The unparalleled nursing shortage facing the health care industry in a post-pandemic world is a result of many contributing factors, some that have been developing for decades. These factors have diminished the supply of new nurses while driving up demand for health services.

This whitepaper outlines and models several contributing factors. The objective of this whitepaper is to introduce a model demonstrating the old and new pressures on the supply and demand of nurses in the hospital setting.

We distinguish pressures the academic literature has noted for over a decade from new pressures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has introduced new problems and made old problems worse, making this nursing shortage far bigger than any in the past.