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The Nursing Job Shortage: Where Are Nurses Needed Most?

Nursing Shortages

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A Turn for the Worse: The Biggest Nursing Shortages

With most Baby Boomers heading into retirement, the nursing industry will soon experience a worrisome shortage. Schools of nursing are trying to meet the demand by expanding their programs and offering accelerated coursework; however, it is still projected that there will be a massive scarcity of trained RNs. So where will these shortages happen? What states, people and fields will be affected most?

A Frightening Future for Nursing

The RN workforce is expected to grow from 2.7 million jobs in 2014 to 3.2 million jobs in 2024. That is an increase of 16%, and one of the highest of any industry in the U.S. (1)

Nursing schools across the country have only seen a 3.6% increase in enrollment, nowhere near enough to meet the projected demand of nurses in the coming years. (1)


Percentage of the nursing workforce that is 50+ years old, with more than 1 million RNs retiring in the next 10 to 15 years (1)

By 2025, many states on the east and west coasts will experience nursing shortages.

Future nurse deficit by state (2)

Hawaii: 200

South Carolina: 600

Montana: 800

Maine: 1,700

Rhode Island: 2,100

Alaska: 2,700

New Mexico: 3,400

California: 3,700

Oregon: 6,000

Georgia: 6,700

Washington: 7,000

Nevada: 7,800

Maryland: 12,100

Colorado: 12,900

North Carolina: 12,900

Arizona: 28,100

Shortage by Specialty

Certain fields of nursing will suffer bigger shortages than others because of job growth.

Fastest-growing nursing fields (3)

Field: Job growth by 2022

Nurse midwife: 31%

Nurse practitioner: 25%

Nurse anesthetist: 22%

Clinical nurse: 20%

Psychiatric nurse: 20%

Trauma nurse: 20%

Travel nurse: 20%

Geriatric nurse: 20%

Oncology nurse: 20%

Dialysis nurse: 19%

Pain management nurse: 19%

Pediatric nurse: 19%

Traveling nurses are — and will continue to be — one of the highest fields in demand, particularly in certain U.S. cities, including: (4)

Los Angeles







Another area where the nursing industry is suffering is in education. Colleges will see a higher demand and a short supply of nursing faculty, which causes nursing student numbers to fall.


Number of qualified nursing school applicants turned away in 2016 due to a lack of faculty (1)


Current national nurse faculty vacancy rate (1)


Average age of doctorally prepared nursing professors in the U.S., which is close to retirement age. (1)

Nursing Shortages






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