Aging of baby boomers will drive nursing job trends

As one of the largest segments of the American population, aging baby boomers, those who were born in a 20-year period following World War II, are straining our current healthcare system. Many in this population bracket, expected to have higher life expectancy, are suffering from chronic illnesses with complex treatment needs. Because of this, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates a need for more registered nurses than ever before. Furthermore, the ever-changing medical landscape will increase the demand for those with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

The role of nurses

Nurses are the frontline healthcare workers in America, often the first and the last to interact with patients. There are currently about 2.7 million nurses in the United States and about 55 percent of them hold a BSN or higher degree. Nurses comprise the largest component of hospital staff. As it stands, the current workforce is understaffed to care for the upcoming influx of patients. The U.S. Census estimates that there are between 70 and 77 million baby boomers. Most members of this group are expected to retire within the next 10 years. To treat this growing population, an estimated 19 percent more nurses will be needed over the next 10 years, representing about half a million more nursing jobs.

Changing needs

Among the list of qualifications to obtain one of these new nursing jobs is a BSN, which has become increasingly important as hospitals strive to enhance patient care and reduce healthcare costs. Studies have shown BSN-prepared nurses are associated with improved patient outcomes such as low post-surgery patient mortality and fewer hospital-acquired infections. The Institute of Medicine has recommend 80 percent of the nursing workforce have a BSN by 2020. This increase is necessary as the healthcare landscape changes, having a significantly higher proportion of complex geriatric patients than in any other point in U.S. history. In the coming years, the growing geriatric population will increase the demand for nurses by nearly 20 percent over the next 10 years, increasing the number of jobs by over half a million.

A snapshot of nursing jobs

Nursing jobs of the near future will have a few things in common. Most hospitals will prefer or require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. Working nurses with an associate degree, who want to remain competitive in the job market, can transition to a bachelor's degree by undertaking an RN to BSN program, many of which are available online and can be taken on a full- or part-time basis. Many hospitals and states have scholarships and funds earmarked to help their nurses further their education.

Learn more about CSUSM’s online RN to BSN program.


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