According to a government study, by the year 2020, there could be a nationwide shortage of up to one million nurses, which could result in substandard treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients. Just as alarming, fewer nurses are choosing to teach the next generation of professionals, resulting in tens of thousands of applicants being turned away from the nation’s nursing schools.
"If there was ever a time in the history of this country when one thought about the match between a profession and the changing needs of people in the country, this is the time," Dr. Mary Naylor of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing tells NOW on PBS. Dr. Naylor points out the growing population of older people, many of whom are living with chronic conditions, is significantly increasing the demand for nurses.
This week, NOW on PBS takes a hard look at how the shortage of nurses is placing strains on the entire medical system, as well as innovative efforts to reverse the trend.
Can America solve its nursing crisis?