The University System of Georgia’s Center for Health Workforce Planning & Analysis estimates a shortage of approximately 50,000 registered nurses in Georgia by 2020. A factor in this shortage is the aging nurse population, with nearly 45 percent of all registered nurses (RNs) now over the age of 50 and many reaching retirement age. In response, policymakers and hospitals are encouraging more students to pursue nursing.
Georgia’s Aging Nurse Population
Compared to other states, Georgia is in a dire situation according to nationwide nurse demographic statistics. For instance, the 2010 Profile of Georgia’s Registered Nurse Workforce reports that 60 percent of RNs occupying nursing jobs in Georgia are age 50 or older. The profile listed faculty shortage as a significant concern for the expected increase in enrollment. Further exacerbating the problem is the fact that many of these nurses — some of whom are also faculty at academic centers — will retire within the next five to 10 years.
An Education Shortage
While the economy is driving interest from students to pursue nursing, the academic system is struggling to meet this growing demand. According to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing report, the nationwide lack of faculty and other resources caused schools to turn away 79,659 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2012. Georgia is no exception.
BSN for an Edge in Nursing
Nurses are the largest segment of the U.S. healthcare workforce. The demand for nurses has shifted to a preference for those with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). A report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation described the edge BSNs have over RNs and LPNs. Evidence shows that hospitals associate baccalaureate-prepared nurses with a higher quality of care, lower readmission rates, and lower patient mortality. To add to the existing nursing workforce and to compensate for faculty shortages, schools across the country have created online RN to BSN programs. These programs allow nurses with an associate degree to enroll in accelerated programs that allow them to earn a bachelor’s degree in less than 2 years.
Although there is a nursing shortage in Georgia, schools are creating flexible nursing programs — like online RN to BSN programs — to help nurses find the training they need to help meet the healthcare demands of the 21st century.
Learn more about the Columbus State online RN to BSN program.
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