why is there a high demand for nurses in 2022?

Four Key Reasons Why Nurses Are in High Demand Right Now

Many of the healthcare heroes highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic emphasized the urgent need for more registered nurses (RN) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) — and the projected figures and data in the nursing field further prove their point.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for registered nurses will grow nine percent from 2020 to 2030, accounting for 194,500 openings each year over the decade. APRN professions are also expected to progress rapidly — with an estimated growth of 45% from 2020 to 2030, creating 29,400 available jobs per year.

With such compelling job growth, many are currently questioning, “why are nurses in such high demand?” and in this article we explore four factors that contribute to America’s need for nurses right now.

1. An aging baby boomer population

Between 1946 and 1964, the baby boomer generation was born, and in 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that by 2030 residents aged 65 and older are likely to total 82 million. In addition, as baby boomers’ requirements for geriatric healthcare expand with age, so will the demand for efficient nurses.

2. The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), legislated in 2010, increased health insurance access for previously uninsured U.S. residents and applied modifications to the health insurance market. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that uninsured rates were successfully reduced in every state since the ACA was implemented. Consequently, more nurses are needed to provide quality patient-centered care when more residents seek medical attention.

3. Nursing faculty falling behind

An article from the U.S. National Library of Medicine detailed that the present-day nursing faculty shortage can cause some instructors to teach cohorts with fewer resources. With limited capacity, student enrollment can become restricted for some institutions, and the number of nurses graduating with their degrees can ultimately decline.

Furthermore, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) confirmed that in 2019, U.S. nursing schools turned away 80,407 applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs due to insufficient nursing faculty and clinical instructors, among other factors.

4. Experienced nurses exiting the workforce

In 2017, a health affairs blog projected that one million registered nurses will leave the workforce by 2030, taking their knowledge, clinical skills, and years of valuable experience with them.

Ready to retire

Recent surveys of registered nurses from the Health Resources & Services Administration established that the median age for an RN is 50, signifying one-third of professionals could be leaving the field within the next 15 years.

Burnout by the bedside

The ongoing insufficient healthcare staffing and patient ratio issues have also led to decreased job satisfaction and increased stress levels for many registered nurses, causing nursing professionals to leave their careers, even years before the Covid-19 pandemic.

In fact, in 2022, the turnover rate for nursing professionals varied by location and specialty, but overall ranged from 8.8% to 37% nationally.

Solutions to the nursing shortage

Moving forward, nursing organizations, policymakers, schools, and the media must collaborate, leverage resources, shape legislation, and strategize to address the nursing shortage.

A U.S. National Library of Medicine report also indicated that nurse supervisors should provide registered nurses of all ages with consistent, high-quality leadership, plentiful opportunities for career development, and strong social support for stressors in the workplace. The same publication concluded that solutions could be found by improving retention, encouraging educators, and attracting new nurses into the healthcare field.

Experts also project that new virtual simulations and technology could transform nursing schools — instructing students on tech-savvy skills to navigate electronic health records, chart patient care, and maintain medical devices. The study also projected an increase in online education, nursing bridge programs, and a demand for healthcare workers with higher education degrees.

The high demand and urgent need for nurses is all too clear. With an advancing baby boomer population, the Affordable Care Act expanding access to medical services, clinical and faculty employment numbers low, and proficient nurses leaving their posts to retire, the call for more healthcare professionals to enter the medical field is a ringing reality.

But if the career call to become a registered nurse is answered with resilience, life as a nursing professional can be nothing short of a rewarding career. By unifying an education in nursing with clinical experience, it’s possible to make a daily difference doing what you love.

Are you thinking about a career administering patient-centered care?
Learn more about earning your nursing degree today!