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Utah: Nursing Workforce Update

Career News September 11, 2013

This report provides information on the status of the Utah nursing workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses are in demand in every state. There is an overall shortage of nurses in the country, with some states reporting a greater need than others.

There are more than 100,000 current job openings for nurses in the United States, and the need for nurses is increasing. There is a particular need for nurses willing to work in a hospital setting. A few of the reasons for the nursing shortage are:

Nurses are retiring: During the recent recession, many nurses came out of retirement and went back to work. Others postponed retirement. Now that the economy is recovering, those nurses are retiring. This, once again, increases the need for nurses to fill those vacancies.

Demographics are changing: As baby boomers reach retirement age, they utilize more health care resources in general and nursing resources specifically.

There is an Increased emphasis on preventive care: As research has advanced, and preventive measures have been identified, more nursing positions are needed to assist in preventive examinations, testing and treatment.

Retention problems in hospitals: Nursing is stressful. Most hospitals have implemented 12 hour shifts. The hard work and emotional toll of working with critically ill patients makes hospital nursing less desirable than other types of nursing jobs.

Shortage of nursing school faculty: Faculty shortage limits enrollment at nursing schools. Eventually, faculty members begin retiring or finding more lucrative jobs.

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act: This has made health care more accessible to thousands of more people. As more people are using the health care system, the need for nurses increases.

Utah: Nursing Workforce and Future Needs at a glance

Licensed RNs in Utah: In 2011, there were slightly more than 19,000 registered nurses in Utah. 1,445 were nurse practitioners.
Nurses in Utah per 1,000 populations: 16.38.
Ages of RNs in Utah: 37 percent are between the ages of 45 and 59.
Average mean annual salary for 2011: $61,540
• According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hourly rate for RNs in Utah is $28.57
Between 2005 and 2009, the total number of new licenses that were issued: 7,479
Between 2005 and 2009, the total number of licenses that expired without renewal: 5,823.
Net increase in nurses between 2005 and 2009: 1,656.
• 15 percent of nurses work two jobs.

Projection of need:

2015: Supply 12,679. Demand: 17,312. This will create a shortage of 4,633.

2020: Supply 12,407. Demand: 19,332. This will create a shortage of 6,925.

Utah does not have a state mandated articulation agreement. A lot of individual articulation agreements exist between ADN and BSN degree programs. Most allow, at least, a transfer of a minimum of 60 credits.

Utah: Outlook for Nursing Jobs

The Future of Nursing Campaign for Action (Campaign) has established goals for increasing the number of active nurses in the Utah nursing workforce. The Campaign is working to increase the education level of nurses so that more nurses will have baccalaureate and doctoral degrees. The University of Utah is taking an active role in developing programs to meet these needs. Leadership opportunities will be developed, as well as models for increased community care. Nurse residency programs will be established and promoted as well as programs for life-long learning.

There are seven state supported nursing schools, two private schools and nine new proprietary schools. Seventy-two percent of graduates are from associate degree programs. The other 28 percent are from baccalaureate programs. Nurses are encouraged to continue their education advanced degrees.

Currently, Utah does not have a shortage of registered nurses, but that is expected to change. According to Maureen Keefe, Dean of the University Of Utah College Of Nursing, the shortage has only temporarily been abated. People are living longer, and Utah has a high birth rate. She also noted that, as the economy recovers, more nurses will want to retire, leaving vacancies that will need to be filled.

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