Monday, June 15, 2009
Recession Prompts California Nurses To Delay
Retiring, Shortage Looms
Nurses are opting to delay retirement during
the ongoing recession, potentially delaying
a significant upswing in California's
nursing shortage, the
Sacramento Bee reports.
The California Institute for Nursing and
Health Care reports that the average age of
working nurses in the state is 47, with 45%
older than age 50.
Although many nurses have chosen to
postpone retirement during the downturn,
economic recovery could spur a sudden wave
of departures from the profession, the
Low Supply, High
A 1999 state law established mandatory
nurse-to-patient ratios, which increased
California's demand for nurses.
The demand is expected to remain high,
particularly as the aging baby boomer
population seeks more health services.
In addition, expanded health care
coverage could drive even more people to
seek health care in the state, especially if
the six million uninsured Californians gain
access to health coverage.
Struggle To Keep Up
Many schools lack the capacity to accept
all students applying to their nursing
programs in part because schools often
encounter difficulty in recruiting teachers,
who would receive lower salaries as nursing
instructors than as working nurses.
To address these challenges, California
in 2005 invested $90 million in a five-year
program to expand nursing programs
Officials said the program increased the
work force to 647 registered nurses per
100,000 people, up from 589. However,
California still lags behind the national
average of 825 registered nurses per 100,000
Officials last month announced that the
state would provide $60 million to extend
the program for another five years (Calvan,
Sacramento Bee, 6/15).