Study finds surge in number of young nurses

Diane Alter – AHN News Reporter

Washington, DC, United States (AHN) – A surge in the number of young nurses may offset projected shortages as their baby-boomer coworkers retire.

According to a report published Monday in the journal Health Affairs, over the past decade the number of younger registered nurses entering the workforce increased 62 percent.

The influx of young nurses is especially notable because at least 900,000 of the nations’s roughly 3 million nurses are older than 50, and are near retrenchment. At the same time, the U.S. population is aging, getting more chronic diseases, and bringing an increased demand for care and nurses.

The number of 20-something nurses dropped steadily through the 1980s and the 1990s, and reached a low in 2002. But, by 2009, there were 165,000 full-time equivalent nurses aged 25 to 35, according to data from RAND Health.

There has been a national campaign for more nurses in recent years with advanced degrees, and other programs aimed at attracting both young nurses and second-career ones in their 30s.

Adding to nurse shortages is the distance many nurses must travel to a job. Census data shows that nursing is one of the least mobile professions, partly due to the fact that many second-career nurse have family obligations by the time they switch jobs.

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