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How fast will the registered nurse workforce grow through 2030? Projections in nine regions of the country

      Highlights

      • While national-level nursing supply is expected to grow in line with demand, significant differences are expected by region.
      • We find dramatic differences in expected growth of the number of full-time equivalent registered nurses per capita: from zero expected growth in New England and in the Pacific regions between 2015 and 2030 to 40% growth in the East South Central region (Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky) and in the West South Central region (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana).
      • Slower growing areas such as New England have an older current workforce and slower recent workforce entry relative to exit.
      • The population of New England is also projected to be the most rapidly aging region, which could disproportionately increase demand at a time with slow expected growth in supply.

      Abstract

      Background

      After an unprecedented increase in nursing school enrollment and graduates in the past 10 years, projected shortages of nurses have been erased at a national level. However, nursing markets are local, and an uneven distribution of health care providers of all types is a longstanding feature of health care in the United States.

      Purpose

      The purpose of this study was to understand how the outlook for future registered nurse (RN) supply varies regionally across the United States.

      Methods

      We apply our nursing supply model to the nine U.S. Census Divisions to produce separate supply forecasts for each region.

      Discussion

      We find dramatic differences in expected future growth of the nursing workforce across U.S. regions. These range from zero expected growth in the number of RNs per capita in New England and in the Pacific regions between 2015 and 2030 to 40% growth in the East South Central region (Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky) and in the West South Central region (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana).

      Conclusion

      Assuming growth in the demand for RNs per population, some regions of the United States are expected to face shortfalls in their nursing workforce if recent trends do not change.

      Keywords

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