America’s nursing shortage has been a cause for concern for many years. Nursing schools are not producing enough nurses to fill staffing shortages in healthcare facilities. Nurses, young and old, are retiring early, and they are not being replaced. During the recent pandemic, nursing shortages across the country affected the quality of patient care, and in some cases, they cost lives.

The Nursing Shortage in America and What it Means for your Job Prospects

As a trainee nurse, this might be a worrying trend. You may wonder why so many nurses are quitting their jobs and what it means for your future job prospects. There is good news on that front. Because of the large staffing shortage, you have excellent job prospects.

Employment prospects for nurses are very good. It is one of the fastest-growing professions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to grow by about 6% in the next ten years.

So long as you have the right training, you will have a choice of jobs to pick from. If you invest in a post-graduate degree, you can get into nursing management quite easily, earn more and enjoy better benefits.

If you don’t want to deal with the daily challenges that nurses face, you can become a nurse educator. Employment prospects in universities for those who choose an advanced degree in nursing or an MSN-NE online degree, for example, are excellent.

As a nurse educator, you will be charged with passing on hard and soft skills to the next generation of America’s nurses.

Hard skills are those that nurses can list in their resumes, like a degree, experience, and certification. Soft skills include good communication, problem-solving, and the ability to work under pressure. All you need to be a nurse educator is a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a graduate degree in a relevant field.

However, before you enroll in a degree program, whether it is a bachelor’s or a master’s, you should be familiar with the issues surrounding the nursing shortage in America.

Why does the country have a shortage of nurses, and what challenges do nurses experience? What are the job prospects, and why should you consider nursing as a career?

What is causing the nursing shortage in America?

The history of the nursing shortage in America goes back decades. During the Great Depression, there was an over-supply of trained nurses. Hospitals had their pick of trained and qualified practitioners. However, as early as 1936, healthcare started to report a shortage of nursing staff.

The Second World War didn’t help; about 25% of the nursing workforce signed up to help the war effort, leaving hospitals with an acute shortage.

The trend has continued to the present day, and the reasons are many and varied:

  • The United States has a rapidly aging population

It is estimated that one in every five Americans will be a senior by 2030. According to a 2020 report by the United States Census Bureau, the country had 54 million people aged 65 and above.

By 2035, this number will rise to 78 million, and by 2040, 81 million people will be elderly and in need of nursing care. By 2060, there will be more than 100 million seniors in the country.

Healthcare facilities across America are already facing a nursing shortage. Although enrollment numbers for nursing training have increased in recent years, nursing schools cannot meet the current demand.

The elderly often have not one but several conditions that require medical care and treatment. Advances in medicine allow them to live longer, putting an even greater strain on American healthcare.

This is great news for anyone who is considering joining the nursing profession. Getting a job as a nurse will be pretty easy because of the high demand created by the nursing shortage.

  • The nursing workforce is aging

A significant number of practicing nurses are nearing retirement. According to a 2020 report, the average retirement age for nurses is 52. It is estimated that more than 1 million nurses will retire in the coming decade.

Not only do they need to be replaced, but the country needs to accelerate the recruitment of nurses to meet the demands of the aging population.

For those with the right qualifications, there will be no shortage of jobs. It also means that those with an advanced degree in nursing or an MSN-NE online degree have an excellent chance to become faculty in nurse training schools.

  • Nurses have suffered burnout in recent years

Because of the shortage of nurses and higher standards in healthcare, many nurses suffer burnout and leave their jobs. The profession has a high turnover rate.

Every nurse who leaves the job has to be replaced, giving trained nurses an excellent chance to get hired as soon as they complete nursing school.

  • Many nurses have family obligations

Most nurses are female and, at some point in their careers, opt to leave the profession, either temporarily or permanently, because of family obligations. The gaps created by these absences have to be filled.

  • Stressful work environment

The increasing numbers of addicts and people with mental health issues have discouraged some nurses from staying on the job.

It isn’t unusual for them to experience violence and abuse from patients, especially if they work in the ER or the psychiatric ward. Negative experiences lead to low morale, and some nurses opt to quit.

With the right qualifications, however, you don’t have to work in a dangerous or demoralizing setting. An advanced degree in nursing or MSN-NE online degree allows you to join the teaching fraternity, a much more peaceful setting than a hospital ER.

  • A shortage of nursing faculty in training schools

Some of the best nursing colleges in America are not meeting their potential because they have faculty shortages. They limit enrollment because they don’t have enough teachers.

This offers an excellent employment opportunity for anyone who doesn’t want to work in a busy hospital environment. All you need is a graduate degree to become a nurse teacher.

What challenges do nurses face in America?

Despite being one of the most satisfying careers, nursing comes with unique challenges. In America, there are certain issues nurses can expect to confront:

  • Long shifts – nurses should work eight hours a day, but many work longer because of the nursing shortage and high numbers of patients. Instead of working three shifts a week, many nurses work nearly every day, and this can lead to fatigue and even burnout.
  • Scheduling difficulties – it is difficult for nurses to plan because their schedules vary. For example, a nurse may be required to work between 8 am and 8 pm on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and from 8 pm to 8 am for the rest of the week. This interferes with sleep patterns and makes it difficult to plan other activities.
  • Physical and emotional demands – most nurses are on their feet throughout their shift, and this is physically exhausting. They also have to lift and move heavy people and items. They have the emotional burden that comes with caring for people who are ill and needy. It can take a toll over time, and this is why nurses are urged to take steps to remain emotionally and physically healthy.
  • Exposure to illness – the recent pandemic made all too clear the risks that nurses face, especially when hospitals cannot afford the right equipment to keep them safe in the workplace.
  • A need for continuing education – changing technologies and improvements in patient care and treatment means that nurses have to get additional training regularly. If you plan to move up the career ladder with an advanced degree in nursing or an MSN-NE online degree, you need to enroll in either full-time classes or an online course. Both are demanding, especially when you take into account the busy schedule of a typical nurse.

These are just some of the challenges you can expect to deal with when you become a nursing professional. They shouldn’t discourage you from joining the profession. With the right tips and tricks, you will learn how to cope and have a long and rewarding career.

What are the top nursing jobs?

It depends on where you are. In some parts of America, there is a critical shortage of acute care nurses. In others, there aren’t enough nurses to work in specialist areas like mental health and oncology.

When the time comes to choose your specialization, think about where you would like to work, and research what nurses are required in that particular area.

However, some specializations are in demand across America. If you have the qualifications to become a clinical educator, for example, getting a job isn’t difficult.

The industry also needs directors of nursing and critical care nurses. Radiology and oncology nurses are also in high demand.


America will need newly qualified nurses for the foreseeable future. With the right training, you can expect a long and satisfying career. The job comes with challenges, but what you must keep in mind is that taking care of the sick has always been challenging.

If working in a busy ER doesn’t appeal to you, an advanced degree in nursing or an MSN-NE online degree can help you transition into teaching.