Excerpted from The Atlantic
America’s 3 million nurses make up the largest segment of the health-care workforce in the U.S., and nursing is currently one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country. Despite that growth, demand is outpacing supply.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022.* By 2025, the shortfall is expected to be “more than twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s,” a team of Vanderbilt University nursing researchers wrote in a 2009 paper on the issue.
The primary driving force in this looming crisis is the aging of the Baby Boomer generation: Today, there are more Americans over the age of 65 than at any other time in U.S. history. Between 2010 and 2030, the population of senior citizens will increase by 75 percent to 69 million, meaning one in five Americans will be a senior citizen; in 2050, an estimated 88.5 million people in the U.S. will be aged 65 and older.
And as the population ages, demand for health-care services will soar. About 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic condition, and 68 percent have at least two, according to the National Council on Aging. A USA Today analysis of Medicare data revealed that two-thirds of traditional Medicare beneficiaries older than 65 have multiple chronic conditions, a number that will only continue to climb.