The Public Interest

Where have all the nurses gone?

Ronald W. Dworkin

Summer 2002

THE nursing shortage in the United States has turned into a full-blown crisis. Because fewer young people go into nursing, one-third of registered nurses in the United States are now over 50 years of age, and that proportion is expected to rise to 40 percent over the next decade. Nurses currently practicing report high rates of job dissatisfaction, with one in five seriously considering leaving the profession within the next five years. In Baltimore, where I practice medicine, hospitals routinely cancel or delay surgical cases because of a lack of nursing staff.

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