The Current Shortage Of The United States

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In 2002, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that the United States would be 800,000 registered nurses short of the national need by the year 2020. Recently, this number has increased to over one million RNs short of the need by 2012. Although there has been some indication that the entry of older nurses into the profession, along with efforts to recruit foreign-born nurses, have helped to ease the shortage, scholars project that the predicted trends are likely to continue (Auerbach, Buerhaus, & Steiger, 2007; Buerhaus, Donelan, Ulrich, Norman and Dittus, 2006; Larkin, 2007). As such, the need for understanding the factors contributing to the nationwide shortage has never been greater. The current shortage is a problem of both supply and demand (American Hospital Association, 2006). As the population ages, there is increasing demand for nursing care both in hospitals and nursing homes. At the same time, fewer individuals are choosing nursing as a career, the most experienced nurses are quickly approaching retirement age, and others have been leaving the profession before they reach retirement age citing poor working conditions as their reason for doing so (Buerhaus et al. 2006; Gordon, 2005: Hecker, 2001; Pinkham, 2003; van Betten, 2005). These trends have led many to speculate about the causes and solutions to the current shortage of registered nurses. In what follows, we show how attending to the emotional dimensions of nurses’ work environments provides new insight
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