Nursing Shortages and the Push for 80 Percent BSN by 2020

The healthcare industry is becoming more complex. The needs of an aging patient population as well as advances in technology call for a highly skilled and well-educated workforce. In the face of a very real nursing shortage, nursing professionals need to be prepared to take on the varying needs of their patients.

A 2013 Health Resources and Services Administration report placed the number of nurses with a bachelor’s degree or higher at 55 percent. The Institute of Medicine (known as the National Academy of Medicine since 2015) recommends a boost to 80 percent by 2020. Those who choose to answer this call will have the skills and experience necessary to be at the top of their profession. The future of nursing depends on the availability of professionals with knowledge, experience and skills needed to care for more patients with more complex conditions.

Aging Patients and Advancing Technology

According to 2012 projections by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of U.S. residents aged 65 and older will exceed 20 percent by 2030, up from 13 percent in 2010 and 9.8 percent in 1970. This growth points to an increased need for highly skilled nurses capable of providing advanced care.

Signs of a Nursing Shortage

Research shows that America is facing a true nursing shortage. For instance, the 2016 National Healthcare Retention & RN Staffing Report published by NSI Nursing Solutions Inc. clearly indicates the growing need for nursing professionals. The report evaluated 138 facilities across the nation and found that 18.8 percent of hospitals reported a 12.5 percent or higher vacancy rate in nursing positions in 2016, up from 10.3 percent of hospitals in 2014 and 2.4 percent in 2012. This uptrend signals the severity of the nursing shortage.

What Is a BSN?

According to an Institute of Medicine report, BSN-prepared nurses are well-versed in key areas such as health policy, healthcare financing, community and public health, leadership, quality improvement and systems thinking. The IOM’s report about the future of nursing shows that nurses trained at the BSN level are sought after for skills that allow them to practice in a variety of settings.

Call for More BSNs

A 2014 report by the American Nurses Association indicates that BSN graduates found employment in four to six months. The report also shows that 78.6 percent of healthcare facilities prefer graduates with a BSN — and many require it.

The directive from the Institute of Medicine to increase the number of BSN nurses by 2020 sends a clear message to RNs with associate degrees to make their education a priority and enroll in an RN to BSN program. Not only will these highly educated nurses have an edge on their peers in the job market, but they will be making a positive difference to the future of nursing.

Learn more about the URI online RN to BS in Nursing program.

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