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Book and Media Reviews
October 22 2008

The Future of the Nursing Workforce in the United States: Data, Trends, and Implications

JAMA. 2008;300(16):1943-1950. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.524

This book, by well-known and respected nursing workforce researchers Peter Buerhaus, Douglas Staiger, and David Auerbach, brings together and updates their previous work on the demand and supply of registered nurses and presents their recommendations to partially ameliorate the coming crisis in the supply of nurses in the United States.

The United States has experienced a shortage of registered nurses in each of the last decades going back to the 1960s. Until the late 1990s, each of these shortages was driven by demand. Typically, increases in the demand for nurses made it difficult for hospitals, physician's offices, nursing homes, and other employers to find all the nurses they wanted to hire. As Buerhaus and colleagues observe, in these instances the labor market responded in due course. Nursing wages increased, nurses worked more hours, and a relative few re-entered the labor market. The higher wages, however, soon led more individuals to enter baccalaureate and associate degree nurse training programs, and the shortage disappeared.

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