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In the final installment of a six-part series, noted nursing researcher Peter Buerhaus and his team recently reported on the state of the RN workforce in the United States. The report involved analysis of data from national surveys of RNs conducted in 2002 and 2004. Here are some highlights:


* Overall, the nursing shortage has eased since 2002, according to survey respondents. In 2002, 95% of respondents reported a shortage of nurses during the previous year in the hospital where they worked; in 2004, this figure dropped to 82%.


* Even so, nurses say the shortage is still having a negative impact on patient care. They identify four reasons for the nursing shortage: inadequate salary and benefits, more alternative career options for women, undesirable hours, and a negative work environment.


* Most RNs feel that recruitment and retention efforts are effective, with tuition benefits the most frequently cited recruitment strategy. Employing foreign nurses was singled out as the only ineffective recruitment strategy.


* Working conditions have improved since 2002. Respondents to the 2004 survey reported less overtime, less mandatory overtime, less job stress, better relationships with peers, and improved feelings of job security. Nearly 60% said their managers recognized the importance of RNs' home and family life, and the percentage of RNs who perceived very good or excellent relationships between nurses increased notably, from 53% in 2002 to 72% in 2004.



For more details, including an action plan for employers and nurses, view the article at


Source: State of the registered nurse workforce in the United States, Nursing Economics, P Buerhaus, et al., Jan.-Feb. 2006.