The reasons why nurses are in high demand are because of an aging population, an aging workforce, and the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has worsened the nursing shortage. Nurse specialties and nurses with advanced degrees are also in high demand due to the nursing shortage.
Along with being the most trusted profession in the U.S., nursing is high on the list of most in-demand jobs. The United States has an overall shortage of skilled health professionals, but why are nurses in high demand?
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, nurses were quickly deemed essential workers for a good reason. Nurses are highly trained, work well under pressure and have crucial skills to support global communities navigating a crisis.
Nursing has always been a stable and rewarding career. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a nursing shortage. Nurses remain in high demand due to several factors, including an aging population, medical advances and the aftermath of the global health crisis that saw many nurses leave the profession.
Read on to learn more about why nurses are in demand and some of the in-demand nurse specialties you can pursue after you complete the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Utica University.
Why is There a Nursing Shortage?
Several factors make nursing an in-demand profession, but the nursing shortage is the biggest. The U.S. population is aging and utilizing more healthcare services. The nursing workforce is also aging, which creates additional strain on the health system and leaves a significant gap in experienced nurses to educate the next generation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. needs more than 275,000 additional nurses by 2030.
Baby Boomers Need Healthcare Services
The term baby boomer refers to a generation of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 after World War II when Americans returned to the workforce and began expanding their families. The result was a period of rapid population growth and middle-class expansion. Those in this generation are now at or near retirement age, 56-77 years old, creating an influx of demand for healthcare requiring an increase in qualified health staff.
Medical Advancements Increase Longevity
Additionally, the last several decades have seen incredible scientific and medical advances offering more effective treatment options for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, resulting in a nearly eight-year increase in life expectancy from 1946 to 2021.
Experienced Nurses Are Closer to Retirement
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the average age of nurses is 52, meaning more than a million will retire by 2030. These statistics compound the nursing shortage in both the workforce and the classroom.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Exacerbated the Nursing Shortage
The global health pandemic required an influx of health professionals to care for the thousands of patients affected by COVID and those with existing health needs unrelated to COVID. Following the height of the pandemic, many nurses had feelings and symptoms of burnout. However, now that the pandemic has settled and we’ve found new ways to live with it, nurses are still in high demand to fill open positions from before and after the pandemic.
Nurses are in High Demand Throughout the Country
Nurses are in high demand nationwide, especially in big cities and states. According to the Bureau of Health Workforce projections, the highest number of registered nurse vacancies, each over 10,000, are in South Carolina, New Jersey and Texas. At the top of the list is California, with a nursing shortage estimate of 44,500 vacancies.
Rural areas are also facing a shortage of health professionals. A 2021 report by the Health Resources and Services Administration found that 60% of shortages are in rural communities. There are unique challenges with access to healthcare in rural areas due to lower population density and fewer healthcare facilities. Once you have your B.S. in Nursing, job opportunities are plentiful in big cities and smaller towns.
What Nursing Specialties Are in Demand
Nurses are in high demand nationwide, but a few specialties have an even higher demand. Here are some of the most in-demand nursing specialties:
Critical Care Nursing
Critical care nurses are among the most highly-trained and in-demand nursing specialties. They work in hospitals in general, cardiac, neurological, or surgical intensive care units (ICUs), or the emergency department. Critical care nurses excel at multitasking when managing vasoactive infusions and ventilators, assisting with complex bedside procedures and, most importantly, administering life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
If you like a fast-paced environment that requires quick decision-making and critical-thinking skills, then a high-demand nursing specialty like critical care might be right for you.
With the tremendous advances in cancer treatments over the last several decades, patients survive and thrive long after a cancer diagnosis. It takes highly skilled nurses to help patients through their cancer journey.
Oncology nurses work in various settings with adults or pediatric patients. They work in inpatient units, outpatient clinics and infusion centers or sometimes rotate between all three. Modern cancer treatments often include a combination of treatments, and nurses are in high demand as part of the oncology care team throughout the patient journey.
Nurse educators have a master's degree in nursing education and play a critical role in the nursing field. Still, fewer nurse educators are available to teach the next generation of caregivers due to —you guessed it — the aging healthcare workforce. If you decide to continue your education after earning your B.S. in Nursing, a career as a nurse educator is an in-demand nursing specialty.
The aging U.S. population has also strained the supply of physicians, increasing the demand for advanced practice nurses, especially in rural areas. Family nurse practitioners and nurse midwives are nursing specialties in high demand in rural areas that lack primary care services and are several hours from a large hospital or medical group.
Getting your Bachelor of Science in Nursing is the first step toward becoming a nurse in these high-demand specialties.
Learn how a B.S. in Nursing can prepare you for advanced nursing degrees.
How to Become a Nurse
There are complex reasons for the nursing shortage and why nurses are in high demand, but the solution is simple. We need more passionate and caring individuals to join the nursing workforce as registered nurses.
Rather than starting your education over, use your non-nursing college credits to accelerate your nursing career. At Utica University, you can earn a B.S. in Nursing in as few as 16 months.
Contact our admissions team to begin your path to entering the profession today.