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Nurse Shortage vs. Nursing Job Shortage "contradiction"

Nurse Shortage vs. Nursing Job Shortage "contradiction"

Picture of Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou

I'm a little confused by this Slate magazine story on what is apparently a contradiction in nursing: there is a shortage of nurses at a time when there is a glut of nurses looking for a job.

I can't figure out if the story is saying that there are many nurses out there needing jobs, but many are not willing to deal with the working conditions - four 10-hour work days a week, and having to deal with mind-numbing, bureaucratic paperwork.

Or that it is saying there is a need for nurses, but not enough money to pay for them, i.e., there are layoffs going on, but technically they still need the staff.

Or that there are nurses looking for jobs, but they do not necessarily have the qualifications for the areas in which they are most needed?

I suppose the story itself is open-ended, since it asked for readers to comment and give their input. I thought I'd pass this along to this Reporting on Health community, in case you've also seen this contradiction and given it some thought.

I would love to understand this issue better, as it would help with any stories I do on local nursing programs.


Picture of

Three of the biggest factors:

  • After years of shortage, which prompted widespread efforts and training programs, there's now a glut of RNs on the market;
  • Many older nurses who would've retired (or had cut back hours/gotten out of the business) are now taking on added shifts in a tough economy; and
  • Hospitals have slowed or frozen hiring, trying to squeeze more productivity out of current staff.
Picture of Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou

Ah, that makes a lot more sense to me now. There was more of a chronological flow to the way you said it. Thanks so much.

Picture of Michelle Levander

In California, at least, you would think the nursing ratio mandates would create quite a bit of demand. Here is one study on the impact, published last year.  

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