10 States With Biggest Nursing Shortages

The United States is experiencing a growing nursing shortage which is going to be felt most strongly over the next decade.

By 2020, the U.S will need 1.2 million new nurses. This is despite the fact that between 2005-2010 nearly 400,000 new registered nurses (RNs) entered the workforce which the the largest number for any 5-year period in the past 40 years.

Reasons For The Growing Nursing Shortage

The reasons for the growing shortage of nurses are quite simple. Firstly, millions of Americans from the Baby Boomer generation are growing old. They are beginning to retire and will require greater health-care over the next 10-15 years.

Secondly, the average age of nurses in America is 46. Over the next two decades many of these nurses will be retiring themselves and will also require health-care.

The third issue is that not enough new nurses are being trained to either replace those retiring or make up the numbers needed for a growing demand on healthcare. Although nursing school enrollments have actually increased in the U.S in recent times, there are not enough faculties to train the number of new nurses needed in the coming decades.

10 States Are Already Suffering A Worrying Nursing Shortage.

The nursing shortage is being felt in some states already. The following are the 10 states in America that are most in need of qualified nurses.


The Golden State is looking to fill 80,000 vacant nursing positions by 2015. Currently, California falls far short of the national average of 825 registered nurses employed per 100,000 head of population. The state has only 653 registered nurses employed per 100,000 people.

One of the biggest shortfalls in California is in the area of geriatric nursing. Again, this is no surprise really because millions of Baby Boomers have made the West Coast their home and they are the segment of the American population that are going to be the biggest drain on health-care in the coming years.

To help alleviate the drastic nursing shortage, the California Nurse Education Initiative was introduced. Between 2005-2010, the CNEI provided $90 million via a public-private partnership to develop dozens of new nursing training programs.

This resulted in a 78.7 percent increase in new student enrollments as a result of opening 35 additional nursing programs. But thousands of other qualified applicants were turned away because there were still not enough faculties and teachers to fully alleviate the nursing shortage.

By 2030, California is projected to have a nursing shortage of 193,000 registered nurses.


Florida has the highest Baby Boomer population by far in America with over three million residents 65 and older. And it’s growing every year as more and more retirees head for the sunshine and laid-back lifestyle.

Combine this with new requirements in the Sunshine State to enter a nursing school and Florida is going to be short of 11,000 registered nurses in five years time and 128,000 by 2030.

This is good news if you are looking for a nursing job. Nursing salaries are increasing there and many Florida hospitals are offering additional benefits like childcare, gym memberships and relocation expenses to overcome the nursing shortage.

New York

Current projections predict a shortfall of 37,000 RNs in New York State by 2015 . The biggest nursing shortage in the Empire State is in primary care nursing.

But the problem could be compounded in coming years by proposed legislation to make it even harder to become a nurse in New York. New registered nurses would have to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree within 10 years to keep working in New York if the bill goes through.

Although it is a good idea in one respect as a way of raising nursing standards, the timing might not be so great with the state becoming increasingly in need of more qualified nurses.

The situation is currently so bad that nursing recruiters in NYC are offering incentives like Broadway show tickets, luxurious apartments, fancy dinners and performance bonuses to attract nurses the New York.


The average age of RNs in is 47 years and around 40 percent of them are expected to retire in the next 10 years.

By 2020, it’s estimated Ohio will have a shortage of 32,000 nurses. To help alleviate the problem, local hospitals are developing more nursing programs in conjunction with Ohio community colleges and universities.

Hospitals have also boosted nursing tuition reimbursement, salaries and incentives to retain existing nurses and attract new recruits in an effort to overcome the growing nursing shortage in the Buckeye State.


The nursing shortage in Pennsylvania is similar to the national problem and it is projected that the Liberty Bell State is going to have a nursing shortage of around 30% in the next three years.

Pennsylvania hospitals are doing their part to help reduce the shortage by offering registered nurses more working flexible schedules, tuition reimbursement and payment for continued education.


The Friendship State currently needs an additional 22,000 full-time nurses, which is expected to blowout to 70,000 by 2020.

The Texas Nursing Workforce Shortage Coalition, which includes about 100 medical centers and hospitals statewide, has identified a lack of nursing faculty as the major cause of the coming nursing shortage.

Texas has been providing funding to establish more nursing schools and nursing programs but has had problems recruiting lecturers to run them as many experienced RNs prefer to continue practicing.


Illinois currently needs more than 3000 registered nurses each year for the next five years. That is shortfall between the number of nurses graduating for the 23 nursing schools in Illinois and the demand form hospitals, clinics, home care and doctors’ offices.

In an effort to reduce its nursing shortage, Illinois offers nurses one of the highest hourly rates in the country, the opportunity to forgo repaying their nursing student loans and the opportunity to choose the health-care environment that suits them best.

New Jersey

New Jersey currently has a nursing shortage of 17% shortfall of registered nurses. There are 114,120 licensed RNs working in the Garden State and over 50% of them are aged between 46-50.

This is going to create a growing problem for the state as they near retirement age over the coming years. It is estimated that New Jersey will need to find an additional 40,000 RNs by 2020.

The state has a $22 million nursing program initiative to help reverse its nursing shortage. The money is being used to develop new curricula for advanced nursing degree programs and to assist students to find the best nursing programs,

Currently there are not enough faculty to educate all the nurses New Jersey needs. Many nursing professors are also approaching retirement and there are not enough experienced replacements available. All this will add to New Jersey’s growing health care problems in the foreseeable future.


The population of the Great Lakes State is aging rapidly which is placing more strain on the health-care system.

The state is looking at a shortfall of around 7000 registered nurses by 2018, with the biggest nursing shortages in primary care and women’s health.

A shortage of nursing schools is adding to Michigan’s problems. More than half of faculty at many Michigan nursing schools could retire today if they wanted. Qualified applicants nursing school applicants are being prevented from entering pre-licensure nursing programs in Michigan because of the shortage of faculty, budget constraints and a lack of space.


A nursing shortage is on the rise in Massachusetts according to the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the regional chapter of the Organization of Nurse Leaders.

A survey of 76 hospitals Massachusetts found that the vacancy rates for registered nursing positions to be up nearly 1% from two years ago and demand is expected to continue to outstrip supply in the next few years in the Bay State.

Currently there is a larger shortage of RNs at specialty hospitals – 5.1 percent, compared to acute care hospitals at a 3.9 percent vacancy rate. RN vacancies were highest in pediatric critical care units, home health and emergency departments.


All states will suffer a shortage of registered nurses through a combination of an aging Baby Boomer population, the retirement of 25% of RNs working today and a lack of nursing faculty to train more qualified nurses.

The nursing shortage in the United States is expected to be particularly severe between 2020 and 2030.