What Is Causing the Nurse Shortage?

March 23, 1988

Report Outline
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Introduction

The nationwide nurse shortage is a matter not of decreasing supply but of increasing demand. Hospitals want more nurses because they are so cost-effective, but they still don't offer nurses enough money or prestige to match their responsibilities.

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Overview

Registered nurses—those white-uniformed angels of mercy and trained dispensers of patient care, those hard-working women without whom hospitals would cease to function—are in demand. But the nationwide shortage of nurses is not what many people suppose it to be.

Contrary to popular impression, the supply of nurses is not decreasing, nurses are not leaving the profession in droves and hospitals are not losing their grip on the labor market for nurses. Nurses from foreign countries are not flooding into the U.S. labor force. And the recent decline in nursing-school enrollments, troubling as it may be for the future, is not responsible for the current shortage.

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