The year just started, but already, hospitals around the country are concerned about a projected nursing shortfall in 2016. The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics estimates the nation will need more than 200,000 additional registered nurses for each of the next two years.
Depending on which study you use, the numbers vary from a shortfall of 200,000 nurses, to as many as one million by 2016.
“We feel, we do strongly feel that there is a shortage coming,” says Holton Community Hospital CEO, Carrie Saia.
And whatever the accurate shortfall number is, it’s in large part do to baby boomers.
“Nurses who could’ve retired during the down-spill in the economic setting chose not to retire due to the economy. Now that it’s rebounding and it’s better, my guess is those retirements will increase,” says Baker School of Nursing Dean, Bernadetta Fetterolf.
So now, when nurses retire, it’s in large numbers. Numbers that can’t be filled overnight, or even within a year.
“It’s tougher to find the experienced nurses,” says Saia.
For Holton Community Hospital, experienced nurses and nurses in specified fields, are at times difficult to find. But Holton and Stormont-Vail say when it comes to the nursing shortfall, they’re lucky.
“We have two really good schools of nursing in our community, and that has helped us continue to be in a situation where we aren’t facing a shortage,” says Stormont-Vail Communications Director, Nancy Burkhardt.
“In the Topeka area- Washburn and Baker- We’ve been lucky enough to get graduate numbers here,” says Saia.
And they hope that at their hospitals, unlike in other parts of the country and even western Kansas, their staffing numbers remain high. When staffing numbers are low, hospitals have longer wait times and can see fewer patients.
“Certainly that’s going to impact the productivity of the hospitals. Nursing supply in the workforce is critical, I would say, to our health care facilities,” says Fetterolf.
Nursing salaries in Kansas are ranked in the bottom ten in the country. However, both hospitals say it’s balanced out by the lower cost of living in Kansas.