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June 14, 2000

The Decreasing Supply of Registered Nurses: Inevitable Future or Call to Action?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 2000;283(22):2985-2987. doi:10.1001/jama.283.22.2985

The future of health care in the United States increasingly pivots on a sufficient supply of appropriately educated and skilled professional registered nurses (RNs). The study by Buerhaus and colleagues1 in this issue of THE JOURNAL should create concern among physicians and RNs as well as others charged with providing, managing, or financing health care services. Buerhaus et al forecast that the future sufficient availability of RNs is not ensured given the continued aging of the RN workforce and the decreased propensity for potential students to choose nursing careers. The most important factors contributing to the aging of the nursing workforce are a long-term trend of declining interest in nursing by women, who today enjoy a wide choice of career opportunities, and the decrease in the number of individuals born after 1955 who have pursued nursing as a career.1