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If you’re hiring in healthcare, you know the nursing shortage is a serious and ongoing fight. Before you create your plan of attack, you have to understand what you’re up against. Here are eight nursing shortage statistics every recruiter should know. We know that some of these statistics may seem insurmountable, but with the right facts and tools, you’ll be able to hire the nurses you need. 

1. 87% of Nursing Homes Are Short-Staffed

According to an AHCA/NCCAL survey, the vast majority of skilled nursing facilities are facing “moderate to high staffing shortages.”

Even more worrying, almost half of these facilities (48%) report “severe” shortages. Almost all (99%) of nursing homes have asked their staff to work beyond their standard hours, a practice that can be expensive (overtime pay isn’t cheap) and lead to burnout. 

Hiring for the nursing shortage takes care and strategy. Not only are you competing with other skilled nursing facilities, you’re also competing with other industries for the best nurses. Make sure you’re moving candidates through the pipeline quickly in order to lock in the best talent. 

Learn how to hire for the nursing shortage

2. Nearly Half of All Registered Nurses Are Over 50

The nursing shortage may get worse before it gets better. Right now, 47.5% of registered nurses are over the age of 50. A 2015 study predicted that a staggering million RNs will leave the workforce due to retirement by the year 2030. There will be a scramble to fill these open roles, especially as the population ages and demand for skilled nurses increases. 

The good news? There’s a lot of experience in the workforce right now. Before these nurses retire, they could provide mentorship and support to new nurses. Creative hiring methods such as visa sponsorship and education reimbursement can help you bring the next generation of nurses into the fold. 

3. RNs Aren’t the Only Nursing Roles in High Demand

While registered nurses are often in focus, other nursing roles will also be facing increased demand in coming years. By the year 2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be a 8% increase in nursing assistant roles, a 9% increase in licensed practical nursing roles, a 12% increase in nurse midwife roles, a 14% increase in nurse anesthetist roles, a 33% increase in home health aide roles, and a whopping 52% increase in nurse practitioner roles.

It can be easy to lose sight of your hiring needs beyond registered nurses. Now is the time to make sure your hiring strategy reflects the range of positions you may need in the future. Recruiters will need to adapt their hiring strategies to fit the unique needs of each position. 

4. Overloading Nurses Increases Patient Mortality

Here’s one of the most sobering nursing shortage statistics: when hospitals are understaffed, admitted patients have an increased risk of death.

In one study, patients experienced a 3% higher risk of death for every day their ward was understaffed. While this study focused on hospitals, understaffing has serious effects in senior care as well. Statistics like these are a sobering reminder that fighting the nursing shortage should be a priority for every healthcare organization. 

Learn about the nursing shortage in assisted living

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5. RN Employment Dropped 3% From 2020 to 2021

From 2020-2021, the number of registered nurses had its sharpest decline in 20 years. Culture, burnout, and the COVID-19 pandemic all conspired to drive these numbers down. 

In order to hold onto nurses, recruiters need to offer stability and a meaningful profession—something that can be difficult when shortages leave facilities understaffed. One way to increase retention? Improve your company culture. A healthy company culture can not only help you attract candidates, but can also show prospective candidates or other employees that, in a healthy environment, nursing can be a fruitful and rewarding career. 

Learn how to improve company culture

6. Nurse Turnover Increased 17% During the Pandemic

The pandemic has worsened many pre-existing issues in the nursing profession, including burnout. A third of nurses reported burnout before the pandemic, but during the pandemic, that shot up to around 50%, according to a 2021 study

Burnout forces employees out of their roles early, hurting morale, culture, and patient care. But by preventing burnout employers can also help prevent turnover, saving money and improving culture in the long run. 

Learn how to prevent nurse burnout

7. Over 80,000 Qualified Applicants Were Turned Away From Nursing Schools in 2020

Nursing programs across the country don’t have the space, budget, and faculty to teach all prospective nurses. While nursing school applications have increased during the pandemic, many students aren’t able to receive their healthcare education, even if they’re interested and qualified. 

Ultimately this means that the candidate pool, already far too small to meet demand, isn’t positioned to adequately grow in the foreseeable future. Of course, this also means that many people are interested in becoming nurses. Hopefully, in the future, nursing school resources will expand to include this new generation of nursing students. 

8. Nursing Enrollment Is Increasing

While nursing shortage statistics can sometimes feel bleak, there’s still hope. 

Despite the fact that applicants are turned away from nursing schools, overall nursing enrollment is surging—increasing by 5.6% in 2020. This increase takes into account both baccalaureate and graduate programs. 

Even in the midst of challenges, new nurses are eager to step into your open positions. 

Better Hiring With Apploi 

The facts of the nursing shortage can feel overwhelming, but Apploi is here to help. As a healthcare recruiter, you have a lot you need to tackle. The right tools can help you overcome the nursing shortage and quickly fill your new positions. 

Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard healthcare staff quickly? Contact us today for a free demo of our end-to-end talent management solution.


Pritma Chattha, DNP MHA RN

Pritma is a Yale-educated nurse executive with 18 years of experience advocating for patients at the bedside and in the boardroom. She currently serves as the Head of Healthcare Innovation at Apploi—healthcare's leading recruitment and credentialing platform. Over the last decade, Pritma has honed her expertise as a health informaticist, building and improving electronic health records and credentialing platforms. She is the immediate former Executive Director of Electronic Quality and Safety for Alberta Health Services, the largest health system in Canada. Pritma enjoys rethinking healthcare processes to provide safer, better, and more accessible healthcare.