Healthcare Trend Watch — the Nursing Shortage Is Getting Worse

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This post is taken from an article by Robin L. Rose, MBA VP, Healthcare Resource Group, HealthStream, where she looks ahead at the coming year, with an eye to big picture trends that could have a significant impact on how we provide and experience care.

The Nursing Shortage Is Getting Worse

Hospitals continue to feel the financial pain stemming from the ongoing nursing shortage. According to a recent article in Modern Healthcare, “Providers will have to spend more to recruit qualified employees while the nursing shortage persists through 2025 [even though] they are already facing higher costs related to rising pharmaceutical prices and technological investments, compounded by waning reimbursement levels” (Kacik, 2018).


It is estimated that some 55% of today’s nursing workforce is age 55 or older, and more than 1 million registered nurses are predicted to reach retirement age within the next 10 to 15 years (Nursing@Simmons, 2018).

High Turnover Rates

Compounding the problem of a nursing shortage is a high turnover rate among new nurses. On average, 10-15% of any hospital nursing staff is considered “new” and the turnover rate among this group can range anywhere from 25% - 60%. New nurses are often confronted with complicated, high acuity patients requiring care they are not yet confident to provide, and many leave feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities they are asked to assume.

Regional Staffing Differences

The shortage is likely to be uneven throughout the U.S., with some states having a shortage while others have a surplus. In 2025, states on the east and west coasts will likely have nursing shortages, while states in the middle of the country will have a surplus of nurses. How will your state fare over the next several years?


Additional Healthcare Trends to Watch

Other trends identified in this article include:

  • Amazon is becoming a major disrupter in many areas of healthcare
  • Healthcare costs are becoming scarier than the illness itself.
  • We need to prepare for new health risks from weather and other disasters.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is dramatically changing healthcare
  • We are finally addressing population health.
  • CMS is changing course.
  • We need more joy in healthcare work.
  • Physicians are in short supply too.
  • Digital healthcare organizations are emerging.



Kacik, Alex, “Nursing shortage will continue to pinch hospital margins,” Modern Healthcare, March 7, 2018,

Nursing@Simmons, “The Aging Nursing Workforce,” Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences, May 11, 2016,

Download the complete article here.