States with nursing shortages

Nursing shortage by state data

A shortage of nurses exists when the demand for nurses and nursing professionals exceeds the state’s ability to supply nursing staff. Often the demand is measured by the number of registered nurses per 100,000 people in the state. The shortage can also be calculated by the number of jobs in nursing available or the number of nurses per patient.

Shortages in nursing are not always due to a shortage of trained nurses in a state. Sometimes shortages occur because of an increased rate of hospital admittances, or the decreased number of students entering the medical field as nurses. Another factor that implies a shortage could be inadequate staffing ratios in health care facilities. Shortages also arise because of discontinued programs for trained nurses, or poor retention incentives for nurses already on the job.

The shortage of nurses has become a serious issue in the United States, and in some states in particular. The state of Alabama has the lowest ratio of nurses, with only 621 nurses per 100,000 persons. Wyoming has the largest share of nurses per capita, with an estimated 1580 per 100,000 people. While the national average is 860 nurses per capita, there are 18 states below the national mark.

The United States has had a long standing problem with nursing shortage, but the problem will soon get worse. Nursing educators cannot keep up with the growing demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a need for approximately 233,000 additional registered nurses per year through 2016. This comes at a time when fewer candidates can pass the licensing requirements, and when thousands of nurses are leaving the profession each year.

Some nurses are leaving the field, causing shortages, due to insubordination of lesser workers, difficult working conditions and over regulation. Other reasons for dissatisfaction in the working environment include frequent schedule changes, overloaded staff, and not being appreciated by superiors. The difficulty in finding childcare adds to these other issues.

In addition to the problem of the shortage in nursing, Patient care has also decreased. Poor patient care arises due to overloaded patient to nurse assignments, and massive paperwork, coupled with short staffing.

In many states, health policies and practices have not changed for decades. Shortages due to cost is still the priority of the administrators. Nurses are rarely if ever consulted in reviewing and/or revising health policy. Health care reform is already rare, and the recommendations made by those who are actually providing the care, is almost never considered. Working conditions without any hope of policy changes is the major reason why nurses are leaving the field.

The trend in nursing shortage, already on the decline, along with the high turnover rate, means that the problem will decrease the morale of the already frustrated staff. Add to this, the failure of hospitals and medical administrators to attract the younger generation to enter the nursing field. Colleges have noticed a decline among students to consider nursing as a potential career. Many nurses already working would probably not recommend the career to their own children, and some would actually encourage them to avoid it altogether.

Hospitals who put finances above patient care frustrate those who’s calling and emotions tend to lean toward helping the patient, rather than insisting on the patient’s ability to pay. Nurses desperately need encouragement, support and counseling on a regular basis. But administrators see these “extras” as non-justifiable costs. Only clinical responsibilities, such as medicinal administration, dressing changes, catheter insertions, are qualified and included in the budget toward the care of the patient.

Retention of nurses should be an important consideration of medical administrators. Improving job satisfaction, the inclusion of counseling, and the verbal appreciation by superiors must be something that is addressed in order to keep the nurses already in staff. The shortage of nurses is a monumental problem that cannot be fixed easily or quickly. Nor can the problems be addressed when state budgets are severely cutting spending. Still states must consider the future of nursing staff requirements, and adopt plans that will improve the long-term picture.

The following chart lists the state by state registered nurses per 100,000 population:
Nursing shortage statistics by state

Alabama 644 Missouri 927
Alaska 653 Montana 930
Arizona 660 Nebraska 930
Arkansas 669 Nevada 942
California 675 New Hampshire 950
Colorado 690 New Jersey 951
Connecticut 690 New Mexico 953
Washington DC 725 New York 956
Delaware 701 North Carolina 975
Florida 753 North Dakota 984
Georgia 775 Ohio 988
Hawaii 781 Oklahoma 1,023
Idaho 814 Oregon 1,028
Illinois 834 Pennsylvania 1,031
Indiana 834 Rhode Island 1,035
Iowa 842 South Carolina 1,052
Kansas 850 South Dakota 1,053
Kentucky 859 Tennessee 1,056
Louisiana 860 Texas 1,060
Maine 871 Utah 1,103
Maryland 872 Vermont 1,109
Massachusetts 874 Virginia 1,116
Michigan 876 Washington 1,181
Minnesota 876 West Virginia 1,300
Mississippi 900 Wisconsin 1,313
Virgin Islands 635 Wyoming 1,580

So nurse shortage will not be filled until 2020 according to private study.
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