There is a new shortage in hospitals and health systems around the country. As experienced nurses retire, new graduates and novice nurses are flooding the healthcare workforce. While novice nurses may seem like a problem for healthcare facilities and hospitals, these nurses are exposed to new treatments and technology which the experienced nurses are not accustomed to. There exists a large gap between the generations of nurses while the complexity of care rises.

Outpatient opportunities increase competition among the RN supply and tighter operating margins put pressure on the cost of labor. There is regional variation in nursing supply where some states are going to have shortages, while there is a growth in RN supply. According to the Health Resource and Services Administration, seven states will experience an RN shortage by 2030, but there will be an excess of RNs by 293,800 nationwide. Population density, location, types of care sites by specialty, and local job competition are all factors in this regional variation. This excess is likely due to a rise in young nurses who are looking to work in metropolitan areas.

Bridging the Gap

The complexity of care is so great that it takes longer to get the knowledge and skills needed to handle patient care. Every healthcare environment is filled with many challenges on a day-to-day basis, so it is important to provide educational opportunities for novice nurses to move up the ladder to a position of competence. Teaching nurses effectively from the onboarding stage will accelerate the educational transition for any nurse. When nurses of varying experience are offered opportunities across an organization, their skills will become more flexible. Redistributing nurses can ease up labor costs because nurses can move within an organization to where they are needed most. Lastly, differentiating roles for experienced nurses will scale the impact of competent, proficient, and expert nurses in an organization.

Virtual nurses are a new addition to the care model that can help ease staffing tensions and provide more opportunities for nurses to train onsite. Most virtual nurses are highly experienced and can provide expert care among multiple organizations. When virtual nurses are paired with a novice onsite nurse, the onsite nurse can learn the patterns and signs that alert expert staff to emergencies. Scheduling the right mix of RN experience levels, both onsite and virtual will limit wait times among patients when complications arise.