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15 reasons the nursing shortage won't last past 2040

by Staff Writer
03 Apr 2019 at 10:39hrs | Views
With World Health Organization (WHO) reports indicating that roughly one third of the nursing workforce will be retiring in the next 10-15 years, it's easy to assume that there's no end in sight for the nursing shortage. Even worse is the short-term requirement that the world will need an additional 1 million nurses by 2020 in order to solve a shortage that doesn't seem solvable. Nonetheless, the medical and educational fields have been making strides towards filling vacant positions and training the next generation of registered nurses. That being said, here are 15 reasons why the nursing shortage probably won't last past 2040:

1. Earning a Nursing Degree Online is Only Getting Easier
Online nursing programs have really started to gain momentum during the past decade, with major universities offering web-based degree courses that let you learn at your own pace. Furthermore, even advanced degrees can be earned online nowadays. For example, a registered nurse looking to earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) could do so without affecting their current working hours  by enrolling in a program like the online DNP from Baylor University.

2. Learning Apps are Getting Better
Let's face it, one of the reasons why nursing isn't a popular career path is because the learning curve is generally perceived as being steep and complex. Of course, earning any type of medical degree can be an intimidating process. Advancements in app-based learning will simplify even the most complex topics. Plus, in comparison to computer and tech-related classes, nursing will seem simple for students in 2040.

3. Fixing the Diversity Problem Should Be Easy
Another major factor behind the shortage is the lack of gender and racial diversity among nurses. As stereotypical as it may seem, the stats don't lie – the overwhelming majority of nurses in the U.S. are white females. Is this disparity a result of discriminatory hiring practices from employers like hospitals and clinics? Or, are nursing jobs being mostly pursued by white females due to the historical stereotype of nurses being female? Fortunately, fixing this gender/race stereotype should be easy to do within the next twenty years and it will bring people from all walks of life into the nursing profession.

4. The Economy Will Allow for Higher Pay
As time passes, inflation and other factors will cause everything to become more expensive. The cost of living will rise, but as a result, so will the average wage. Wage increases will be applied to each industry based on the demand for employees. Since the nursing shortage is expected to be at its strongest point ever during the next 10 years, that's when we can expect to see some of the highest salaries for nurses in proportion to the economy.

5. The Effect of Retiring Baby Boomers Will Wear Off
The baby boomer generation is in the process of entering retiring age, which is causing a disruption in many industries, not just nursing. However, by the time 2040 rolls around, the nursing industry will already be starting to recover from the effects of that mass retirement. With the world population approaching 9 billion by 2040, there will be plenty of students to fill any gaps left by the previous generation of nurses.

6. Getting Hired as a Nurse Will Be Easier
For someone who has never been a nurse and has never even studied nursing, the job can seem complicated. It's easy for a non-nurse to get the impression that getting and maintaining a job at a hospital or clinic will be difficult. By 2040, becoming a nurse will be even easier than it is now, which means that more people will start to think of nursing as a feasible career path that's within their grasp.

7. Nursing Robots Will Be a Thing
With augmented and virtual reality just starting to make their way into the mainstream, most people haven't realized how these amazing technologies are going to affect healthcare. It's likely that by 2040, physicians will have access to advanced automated assistants that can perform many of the functions that a nurse would normally be responsible for. Some hospitals are already using automated systems to replace triage nurses and streamline the patient intake process.

8. Automation Will Reduce the Workload
As mentioned above, many medical institutions are already taking steps to automate certain procedures related to data input. So, it's only a matter of time before the automation is extended into other activities that nurses would normally perform, such as asking basic health questionnaires and taking vital signs. With robots and apps handling most of the tedious work, there will be less of a workload for the human nurses.

9. Millions Will Be Invested in Solving the Shortage
While most people don't think twice about the nursing shortage, it's important to remember that this is a global healthcare problem that's being worked on by huge organizations like WHO, CDC, and the UN. The amount of funding poured into this area of development will easily reach into the hundreds of millions, if not billions, by 2040. Then think about all of the other players who have a stake in the game – healthcare facilities like hospitals and clinics, or the educational institutions like universities and online degree providers. With so many people working to end the shortage, it shouldn't take more than two decades to solve.

10. Nurse Employers Will Improve Onboarding Programs
Every nurse can tell you that your initial experience at your first nursing job can be rough, especially if you're being thrown into long hours with an understaffed crew. By 2040, the system should be more organized and the orientation and on-boarding for new nurses will be much smoother and more enjoyable. This seamless transition into the workforce will help retain the small percentage of new nurses that would otherwise quit or begin to look for other career options due to dissatisfaction.

11. Career Benefits and Perks are Increasing
If you think that nursing jobs come with great benefits now, wait until you see what the benefits for any healthcare job will look like in 2040. The healthcare industry is known for providing great insurance and retirement benefits to its employees, and this advantage will only increase over time. Students will take this factor into consideration when comparing prospective career paths. Even if nursing only becomes 5% more appealing to prospective students due to benefit increases, that tiny edge will make a dent in the shortage.  

12. Healthcare is the Biggest Industry Worldwide
People take doctors and nurses for granted. Did you know that lack of sufficient healthcare is the leading cause of disease in developing countries? The healthcare industry is working diligently as a whole to ensure that there are enough people earning medical degrees to continue providing acceptable care for future generations. With the largest industry in the world searching for a solution, you would hope that significant progress would be made by 2040.

13. Nurse Recruitment Will Be Better Incentivized
What if you could earn a decent living just by convincing other people to become nurses? Referral programs like that already exist at some healthcare institutions. However, in the future there will be entire office buildings packed with recruiters who do nothing but try to find eligible professionals to fill the nursing gaps. With an entire industry of recruiters springing up to meet the need, one would hope the shortage shouldn't be too hard to solve.

14. Becoming a Nurse Won't Be Such a Huge Commitment

Taking the offline route to become a nurse is still quite a commitment to make, particularly for someone who is already employed or in the process of pursuing another potential career path. With online nursing programs becoming more prevalent, earning a nursing degree as a backup career option won't seem like such a major obligation when you can study on your own schedule.

15. New Nurses are Being Born Faster than Hospitals are Being Built
By 2050, the world population will be approaching 10 billion people. Just to put that into perspective, in 1964 – the last year that baby boomers were born – the world population was only 3.2 billion. There are only about 75 million baby boomers in the United States. In fact, as of 2019 there are now more millennials than baby boomers. All of these stats add up to mean one thing – there will be plenty of students on Earth to take the place of all the baby boomers who retire over the next decade.

The Next Decade Will Be a Pivotal Time for Solving the Shortage
Ultimately, if the nursing shortage is going to be solved, it will have to be done soon. Even if we don't see the number of nurses fully meet the demand until 2040, there should already be a noticeable improvement in nurse availability per capita by 2030. Will we then reach a point where there's an abundance of nurses? There's no telling beyond the next 20 years, but it's unlikely that nurses will stop being in high-demand at any time in the near future.

Source - Byo24News