Health Care Careers
New report: Nursing shortage over?
The nation's shortage of nurses is over for the next several years, although 2020 could see a new spike in retirements, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. From 2005 to 2010, the number of full-time nurses grew by about 386,000—partly as a result of the national economic downturn and high unemployment as well as health care's reputation as "recession-proof." Meanwhile, the number of new nursing school graduates has grown as well, from 72,986 in 2000 to 161,540 in 2010, reports Bloomberg News.
Despite the rosy picture, the authors of the study caution employers and workforce policymakers from being "lulled into complacency," noting that "the current positive effect of a weak economy on the RN labor supply is likely to evaporate as the economy improves and . . . shortages will reemerge."
Part of the growth in nursing has come from middle-aged men pursuing nursing as a second career, often after having been laid off from blue-collar jobs, reports The New York Times.
Health care jobs growth up, but health care expenditures down
Compared to 2011, health care job growth is up significantly, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. "The sector created 101,800 jobs in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the 61,000 jobs created in the first three months of 2011," reports HealthLeaders Media.
At the same time, a study of 2011 data from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics reports that Americans "are paring back expenditures on prescription drugs and visits to healthcare professionals, most likely as a result of the lingering recession." The New York Times reported that the number of prescriptions issued to patients was down 1.1 percent versus 2010, and physician visits fell 4.7 percent. "Visits to the emergency room, by contrast, increased by 7.4 percent in 2011, an increase that the report's authors said was linked to the loss of health insurance resulting from long-term unemployment."
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