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Nursing Shortage Looms: Now the Good News

Nursing Shortage Looms Feature Image

Bad and getting worse. That’s the best way to describe today’s nursing shortage.

In Nebraska alone, 2018 data demonstrates a shortage of 2,417 to a shortage of 3,238 RNs by 2025.

Some of the contributing factors:

  • Low unemployment rates. Nebraska and Iowa have some of the lowest jobless numbers in the country.
  • An aging population. “All of our baby boomers are at an age where they have more demand for care,” said Pam Kayl, DNP, APRN-NP, CHI Health division director – Center for Clinical Practice.
  • Medicine is dealing with many more chronic conditions, including obesity and diabetes, so there’s more demand for health care.
  • An accelerating rate of RN retirements across the country.
  • Many nursing programs can’t accept higher numbers of students because of a shortage in nursing faculty. There’s no one to teach the nurses of the future. Fortunately, said Kayl, “Creighton University has been dramatically increasing its enrollment over the past several semesters. We still have many potential students interested in nursing but our struggles are compounded by shortages in nursing faculty.”

If there’s any good news, it’s that the shortages in the heartland aren’t as bad as they are elsewhere.

“We have had success in recruiting new grads to our facilities,” said Angie Sander, CommonSpirit Health system Vice President for Talent Acquisition. “This is in part due to the number of nursing programs we have within our region and our partnerships with the schools."

Sander said nursing is so rewarding, more young people need to consider it.

“The nursing profession has and development, including various options for location, service lines, direct patient care, case management and leadership,” she said. “And the list goes on! It will challenge you and you’ll get the opportunity to be bold in offering insights and ideas that will lead us into the future of health care.”

Nursing is never boring, Kayl said. “First, it opens the door to so many opportunities and paths. You can work bedside in a hospital, in a clinic, in home health. There is a specialty area for every personality: ambulatory, OR, ICU, med-surg, etc.” The list of places you can work is also “endless.”

According to Sander, nursing is one of the most selfless careers a person can pursue. “On a daily basis, nurses are impacting lives. It is truly a calling to serve others. And you get the opportunity to work alongside others with that same passion and drive. This work is truly inspiring.”

Who should pursue nursing? “Those who are very customer service driven and who live our core values of Reverence, Integrity, Compassion, Excellence,” said Sander. “Our patients and their experiences are at the center of why we do what do each and every day and therefore our nurses need to be focused on our mission and connected to our patients.”

“It is such meaningful work,” Kayl agreed. “We impact lives every day. As one of my nurse colleagues says, ‘We do God’s work every day.’” 

Know a nurse who’s interested in an incredible career? Refer them to

Tips for Easing Fatigue

Source: American Nurses Association

For Nurses

  • Get regular and restful sleep: 7-9 hours
  • Use related benefits and services offered by employers (wellness programs, education, training)
  • Take scheduled meals and breaks during work shift
  • Follow established policies and use existing reporting system (provide information about accidents, errors and near misses)

For Employers

  • Allow nurses to accept or reject a work assignment (based on preventing risks from fatigue)
  • Institute an anonymous accidents, errors and near-misses reporting system
  • Institute policies that address the design of work  schedules (limits on overtime, actions to take when a worker is too fatigued, etc.)
  • Design schedules according to evidence-based recommendations (use  regular and predictable  schedules, examine work demands with respect to shift length, limit shifts to 12 hours or less, establish at least 10 consecutive hours per day of protected time off, etc.)