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New survey finds nursing shortage likely to increase

SAN DIEGO – Nearly one-third of registered nurses surveyed in January say they will not be working in their current job a year from now, and close to half say they plan to alter their career path in one to three years.

The 2010 survey of registered nurses released Wednesday by AMN Healthcare, a San Diego-based provider of  healthcare staffing and management services, found 28 percent of nurses surveyed plan to leave the nursing field entirely or cut back on hours because the job is affecting their health.

Researchers said they polled 1,399 RNs for the study, asking questions related to job satisfaction and nursing opinions on how the recession and potential healthcare reform may affect their jobs.

On the healthcare reform issue, only 6 percent of the respondents are "very confident" that reform will provide a mechanism for ensuring an adequate supply of nurses.

Industry data indicates the nation will face a shortage of 260,000 RNs by 2025.

"Our survey clearly indicates significant job dissatisfaction and that is concerning in terms of quality healthcare delivery," said Ralph Henderson, AMN Healthcare’s nursing and allied division president. "Nurses are at the core of quality care in our nation’s delivery system, and if we see large numbers of nurses leaving the profession it could negatively impact patient care outcomes."

According to the survey, 55 percent believe that the quality of care that nurses provide has declined compared to five years ago.

Researchers said that while the survey highlights nurse dissatisfaction with their current job, most are satisfied with their careersl, with 59 percent saying they would select nursing as a career if they had it to do it again. Sixty-four percent said they would recommend nursing as a career to young people.

"While nursing has made tremendous strides as a profession, in terms of pay and prestige, staffing shortages remain the profession’s greatest challenge," Henderson said.

Six percent of nurses permanently employed in a hospital setting plan to retire in the next one to three years. This action would reduce the hospital nursing workforce by more than 70,000, according to researchers.

"It is critical that we find ways to keep experienced nurses engaged in patient care and attract new nurses to the workforce," Henderson said. "These two things combined will help mitigate the impact of the nation’s growing nurse shortage."