New graduates and other candidates for nursing jobs can expect 2024 to be a great year — the healthcare industry is growing and there are not enough nurses to meet the current demand. Thus, the need for nurses and new graduates who can help solve nursing shortages continues to increase.

Programs like Nevada State University’s online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) help nurses access the education they need to play a role in addressing the nursing shortage. A quality RN to BSN program prepares nurses for emerging or vacant nursing jobs, and many employers are striving to increase the number of BSN-prepared nurses they employ. In Nevada, where there are too few nurses for the number of residents, the state government and other groups encourage more people to choose nursing as a career.

The National Nursing Shortage Continues

With an aging U.S. population and many experienced nurses seeking retirement, there is a shortage of qualified nurses. The Baby Boomer generation continues to reach retirement age in large numbers. Plus, many Baby Boomer nurses retired in recent years or plan to do so soon. In fact, according to the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey, the median age of RNs decreased from 52 in 2020 to 46 in 2022, reflecting a large number of experienced, older nurses leaving the profession.

Further, the COVID-19 pandemic hastened workforce losses in nursing. The National Council for State Boards of Nursing reports that roughly 100,000 nurses left the profession during the pandemic, due to factors like stress, burnout and retirement. An additional 800,000 nurses report that they intend to leave the profession within the next few years. These workforce losses — and the root causes of nurse attrition — clearly must be addressed.

More Americans are living longer and healthier lives, too, increasing the demand for healthcare services that help people feel their best and stay active. In addition to these reasons, more healthcare organizations and health districts are emphasizing the importance of high-quality preventive care, chronic condition management, and increased access to primary care.

As a result of these trends, many positions are already available for new nurses. In the coming years, even more jobs are expected to open up for nursing graduates. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projects that employment of RNs will grow 6% between 2022 and 2032. This growth rate is twice as fast as the average growth rate for all occupations.

BSN Education Is Important for RNs

An RN to BSN program prepares nurses with the skills they need for new nursing jobs, since many employers have a goal of increasing the proportion of new hires who hold BSNs. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), various research studies show that BSN preparation correlates with positive patient outcomes. So, hospitals, legislative bodies and industry organizations are advocating for additional nursing education.

New nurses who earn BSN degrees may have significant advantages in finding better entry-level jobs. According to a 2023 survey by AACN, nearly 70% of healthcare employers strongly prefer hiring BSN-prepared nurses and 25% require BSN degrees as a minimum qualification for new hires. Higher education can help you stand out and receive better job offers.

Nevada’s Nursing Shortage

In Nevada, a shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals can force employers to stretch their workforces. Some employers, such as hospitals and nursing schools, leave vacancies open for extended periods of time as they await qualified applicants.

More nurses are needed, particularly in the rural counties and regions of Nevada. According to a recent analysis from the Nevada Health Workforce Research Center, Nevada needs more than 4,000 additional RNs to meet the national RN-per-capita average. Roughly 1.9 million of the state’s citizens live in primary care health professional shortage areas and 2.8 million live in mental health professional shortage areas.

Over the past years, more RNs began working in Nevada, partially alleviating the shortage but not eliminating it. The proportion of nurses to Nevada residents grows but still lags behind that in many other states. Plus, the pandemic put a sizable dent in Nevada’s recent nursing workforce gains. Increased emphasis on nursing education, training, and recruitment is needed to bring the state up to par with nursing workforces in other states.

An important component of this is faculty. Right now, many schools have faculty shortages. In the coming years, many existing faculty members may consider retirement. Without qualified nursing instructors and professors, some schools may have little choice but to restrict new applicants, potentially making nursing shortages even worse.

AACN notes that this is one of the reasons why nursing programs in the U.S. turned away over 78,000 qualified applications in 2022. Recent legislation in Nevada seeks to address the nursing faculty shortage — and therefore the nursing shortage — by providing funding for increased levels of nursing faculty at Nevada schools like Nevada State University.

Nursing is still a growing field and many areas around the country are experiencing shortages of qualified applicants for nursing jobs. Graduates with a BSN degree have strong preparation for the new jobs becoming available as the healthcare industry expands, additional acute healthcare is needed, and experienced nurses retire from the workforce.

In Nevada, relatively few nurses are in the workforce, and the ratio of nurses to residents is below average for the U.S. Inside the state and around the country, many healthcare employers will be looking for more nurses in the following year. This may create stronger opportunities for recent nursing graduates.

Learn more about Nevada State’s online RN to BSN program.