California needs 10,000 more nurses to meet the health needs of its residents. By 2030, the shortage in California is expected to exceed 45,000 unfilled nursing jobs. Because nursing programs are filled to capacity and don’t have room to admit more students, it is currently very difficult to satisfy the growing need for nurses let alone the projected need a decade from now.

Since California has approximately one-seventh of the total U.S. population, we can project the nurse shortage to be over 250,000 nation-wide in the next decade!

Compounding this issue, the Nursing Association has mandated U.S. hospitals to upgrade their nurses’ credentials and training by 2020 to be eligible for Magnet Hospital status. At least 80% of a hospital’s staff must have BSN degrees for it to receive Magnet status. This is both good and bad: good because more college means a better prepared work-force; bad because currently working nurses are returning to college for their BSN, MSN, and Doctor of Nursing degrees, further overloading the capacity of nursing schools and programs to graduate new nurses.

The demand for admission to nursing schools is severe and getting worse. The American Association of Colleges of Nurses reported that in 2018-19 U.S. colleges and universities turned away 75,000 qualified applicants for BSNs and nursing graduate programs due to a lack of teachers and classroom space as well as institutional budget cutbacks that further reduced capacity. The waiting time for admission into a campus-based nursing program is two to three years just to get in.

It’s inevitable that the nursing shortage is bad news for our expanding aging population. As an educator, I want to see opportunity for everyone who wants to become a nurse to have the opportunity to become one. There are plenty of applicants who want to be nurses; there’s just a shortage of schools needed to educate the tens-of-thousands of applicants. And this shortage benefits those practicing nurses who are in the work-force. Once you have earned the associate degree and have your RN license in California you can expect an annual salary of $102.700 which is $8.558 monthly or an average of $49.37 per hour! Around the U.S. the average salary for a registered nurse is between $50.620 to $73.550 which suggests that California will be raiding states across the nation for their nurses. However, taking from one pocket to another doesn’t solve the shortage problem.

The situation is dire. It’s like sitting on the rail road tracks with the Amtrak Surfliner bearing down on you; you know it’s coming. As an educator, I suspect that dozens of colleges will now jump for the chance to offer nursing degrees online. So, stay tuned, maybe the crash will be avoided.

If you are a nurse and can add to this discussion, please let’s hear from you.

University Founder & President Emeritus

About Dr. Donald “Doc” Hecht — Doc is an Educator, University Founder, and President Emeritus writing and discussing the trends and challenges facing higher, online, and distance education, among other topics. Please feel free to comment, make suggestions, or ask any questions! You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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