The U.S. Institute of Medicine’s 2010 Future of Nursing report set a goal for 80 percent of practicing nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree by 2020. While 57 percent of nurses in the acute care setting hold a degree, the growth is not fast enough to reach that goal, according to a report from Reuter’s.
Peter Buerhaus, a registered nurse and health care economist at Montana State University, spoke to the benefits leading more students toward careers in nursing:
When compared to other fields, nurses are really satisfied with their decision to go into nursing. It has economic security, is a recession-proof profession and has a range of opportunities, particularly if you have a nursing degree.
But even with the increasing number of nurses, supply simply doesn’t equal demand. Many underserved populations desperately require nurses and other care professionals, but there are not enough to go around. In 2014, there were 2.75 million registered nurses in the U.S. Of those, 1.6 million worked in hospitals.
The report highlights a study suggesting that if the current patterns hold, only 64 percent of nurses will hold a bachelor’s degree by 2020. The 80 percent goal, they say, may not be reached until 2029. Olga Yakusheva, an economist at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, suggested that while the numbers are slow to rise, this is still a positive step:
If you want to be a nurse, you should be prepared to dedicate yourself to getting at least a baccalaureate nursing degree. In this era of high technologies and informatics, nurses are expected to be highly-trained in all aspects of patient care and prepared to participate and lead in system-level decision making.