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Nursing shortage


Older people require considerably more healthcare services than the young. Nearly 80 million baby boomers are currently entering our Medicare system, bringing their health problems and high healthcare expectations with them. Nursing is the nation's largest healthcare profession, with more than 3.8 million registered nurses nationwide. Even so, for years there has been a shortage of professional nurses to staff hospitals, retirement facilities and private practices. It is estimated that 11 million new nurses will be needed in the upcoming years to avoid a further shortage. The reasons for our nursing shortage include an aging nurse population and not enough young recruits. Employment opportunities for nurses are projected to grow at a faster rate (15%) than all other occupations from 2016 through 2026.

The average age of our nurse population is about 50 and many are close to retirement. The nurses working in today’s hospitals are short-staffed, extremely overworked – even before our current pandemic - and many report they are dissatisfied with their job. It is not uncommon for nurses to be “asked” to work 12-hour shifts, sometimes longer. The shortage of nurses is causing some emergency rooms to redirect patients to more distant hospitals. Healthcare advocates claim these conditions result in longer waiting times for treatment, more mistakes by health care providers and more patient deaths. Studies have shown that nurse shortages contribute to nearly a quarter of all unexpected problems that result in death or injury to hospital patients each year.

Proposed Legislation: S.1399 - Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019
Prospective Sponsor: Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR)












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Poll Opening Date
October 11, 2021
Poll Closing Date
October 17, 2021


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