New research published in Health Affairs indicates that millennials are becoming registered nurses at such a high rate that the projected large national RN shortage is likely to be averted.
Millennials — those born after 1980 and the first generation to come of age in the new millennium — are nearly twice as likely to be RNs as baby boomers were, according to analysis of data from two U.S. Census Bureau surveys: the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey.
The data projects that the millennial generation will replace retiring baby boomers and add an additional 1 million RNs between now and 2030.
However, the authors noted that with the approximately 1 million baby boomers retiring from the RN workforce, the total RN workforce size will grow at an annual rate of 1.3% over the next decade — half the rate of yearly growth from 2000 – 2015.
Still, it would seem that there will be ample RNs to fill open positions. The question of if they are the types of employees organizations are looking for is a different matter. The authors note:
Whether the projected number of RNs will be adequate also depends on the skills and education of existing and future RNs, the needs of organizations that are increasingly paid based on value and global payment formulas rather than on the number and complexity of the services they provide, and changing patterns of care that have led to reductions in inpatient utilization in many organizations. Nevertheless, a more slowly growing workforce and the loss of an experienced cohort of RNs should be on the minds of provider and payer organizations as they transition to new care delivery and payment models in the next decade.
The authors also advise nursing schools to continue their efforts to grow the RN workforce, but do so with an emphasis on preparing future nurses for a value-based health care system.