High retirement and turnover rates: NJ’s nursing future looks dire
👩⚕️ The turnover rate for LPNs in New Jersey was an alarming 50% in 2021
👩⚕️ More than 6% of RNs in the state plan to leave the profession in the next two years
👩⚕️ More students need to enroll in nursing programs to replace retiring ones
A just-released report from the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing shines new light on the current state of New Jersey’s nursing workforce. Unfortunately, the outlook is very concerning.
The 2023 edition of the Nursing Data and Analysis Report examines the state’s workforce with a focus on supply and demand for nursing, including retirement projections and turnover rates, and pandemic impact.
What did the study find?
“We know that there is a shortage of faculty somewhere between four and eight percent in the RN (registered nurse) programs and approximately 20% in the LPN (licensed practical nurse) programs,” said Edna Cadmus, executive director for NJCCN.
Schools in New Jersey have been unable to increase the number of nursing students that they enroll. But with the demand for nurses across all settings, it’s important to be able to increase the number of students getting enrolled in these nursing programs, she said.
Of particular significance is the rate of retirements and turnover of nurses either leaving the profession or changing jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and normally expected retirements, Cadmus said.
The turnover rate of licensed practical nurses in New Jersey was 50% in 2021, 24% of RNS, and 29% of nurse practitioners. In 2021, RN turnover was 27% nationally.
“We certainly didn’t expect that fast or that acceleration that we’re seeing in terms of turnover,” she said.
What are the reasons for this turnover?
It could be due to retirement, or nurses going to other areas of the profession that are less acute, or less stressful for them. It could also be that they went to travel nursing, Cadmus explained.
What is projected during the next three years?
The report indicated that 6% of RNs, 4% of LPNs, and 3% of APNs (advanced practice nurses) have the intent to leave the profession in the next two years.
During the next three years, there are not enough new graduates projected to replace those nurses retiring.
New Jersey’s RN workforce is expected to decrease by 5%, while the availability of APNs will decline by 2%.
“That’s why we really need to find solutions to increase the number of faculty so that we can support having new students come into the workforce,” Cadmus said.
What are the societal issues impacting health care?
The 2023 report focused on such issues including workforce issues like access to care, climbing cost in health care, high maternal mortality rates, particularly within populations of color, an aging population with increased care needs, and expanded mental health concerns. Some of these health concerns were expedited by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cadmus said the aging population is a major concern and there needs to be enough nurses to help care for the older population.
What are some solutions?
The New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing has been working with state Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex. There is a bill called S2825/A4325, which would infuse $25 million to help increase the number of faculty in schools across all levels, and be able to enroll more students, Cadmus said.
There are solutions. There is time to be able to invest in the future of nursing, she said. There is the ability to do so through some of the legislation that is pending. But while solutions are being discussed, she said the key is finding funding to support these initiatives.
“The data in this 2023 report brings into clearer focus what we’ve already known--that we in New Jersey must address the current supply and demand for nurses. Investing in the future of nursing is essential because the ultimate result will be better health care for everyone, Cadmus said.
New Jersey has approximately 141,000 active RNs, 13,500 active APNs, and 23,500 active LPNs providing services across multiple settings. Demand for nurses is currently outpacing supply, which stresses the labor market, and impacts workforce stability.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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