Home Medizin Pflegepersonal erholt sich nach Pandemieängsten

Pflegepersonal erholt sich nach Pandemieängsten

von NFI Redaktion

Contrary to fears that the COVID-19 pandemic would decimate the workforce of American registered nurses (RNs) in the coming years, a new study found that the employment of nurses has actually increased over the last two years.

In 2023, the number of nurses employed at workplaces was actually 6% higher than in 2019, pre-pandemic.

Foto einer Krankenschwester, die im Operationssaal mit Technik arbeitet

Looking ahead, researchers led by David I. Auerbach, PhD, of Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, reported in JAMA Health Forum on February 16 that nursing staff in the U.S. is expected to grow from 3.35 million in 2023 to 4.56 million in 2035.

„This forecast suggests that the pandemic’s impact on employed RNs, at least so far, likely will not have a significant impact on the future growth of the overall RN workforce,“ the researchers noted.

For the new report, researchers examined U.S. Census data for 455,085 full-time nurses, including Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), aged 23 to 69 from January 1982 to October 2023.

The study’s calculations show that the RN workforce grew from 2 million full-time equivalents to 3.19 million in 2019, then dipped by 46,000 in 2020 and 2021. However, from 2021, the workforce then grew by 222,000 (95% CI: 47,000–397,000) to reach 3.37 million (95% CI: 3.25–3.49 million) by 2023.

„The growth from 2018–2019 to 2022–2023 was seen across all age groups, but led by RNs under 35 years of age (8.2% growth), who saw their numbers increase twice as fast as RNs over 50 years (3.5%),“ the researchers reported. „Growth was also more pronounced among male nurses (14.1%), unmarried nurses (7.4%), APRNs (18.2%), and nurses working outside of hospitals (12.8%).“

The researchers expect the number of nurses to grow by 1.2 million by 2035, with half of the nurses being aged 35 to 49, compared to 38% in the previous year.

„It remains to be seen whether this projected growth meets the demand for the types of health services provided by nurses or meets the demand from health service providers for RN labor,“ the researchers wrote.

The study did not examine why there are more nurses employed today than in 2019. Regarding limitations, the researchers noted that the standard error of their forecasts is about 5%, and added that „our forecast will be too low if nurses increasingly retire in the future or if future cohorts are much larger than current cohorts.“

They also pointed out that almost all of the workforce growth from 2018 to 2023 occurred outside of hospitals: „This shift could explain why some hospitals reported a shortage of nurses despite robust overall workforce growth in 2022 and 2023.“

The study authors reported grants from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, the Hartford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and UnitedHealthcare. One author is involved with ArborMetrix Inc., a health analytics company, and advises the company. Another author reported a grant to expand the scope of the Hartford Foundation and grants from Dartmouth College, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the National Institute on Aging.

Randy Dotinga is an independent writer and a board member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

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