Nursing Shortage Explained

The most recent issue of JAMA reported that in 2005 the United States had 218,800 fewer nurses than it needed. With nurses getting paid decent wages, why is that the case? Maggie Mahar at Health Beat has the answer:

Consider this: In the San Francisco area, a nurse with a bachelor’s degree can hope to start out with a salary of $104,000. The salary for a nursing professor with a Ph.D. at University of California San Francisco starts at about $60,000.

This goes a long way toward explaining why nursing schools turned away 42,000 qualified applications in 2006-2007—even as U.S. hospitals scramble to find nurses.

Mahar also notes that the situation is just going to get worse: “The fact that the average nursing professor is nearly 59 while the average assistant professor is about 52 suggests that, as they retire, the shortage could turn into a crisis.” There’s also a pretty good post by Niko Karvounis on why the Republican cry of “socialized medicine,” frequently used to describe the Democratic presidential candidates’ health care proposals, is a bunch of malarkey.