New survey suggests nursing shortage looming in Illinois

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SPRINGFIELD — A new survey conducted by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation suggests the state may soon face a shortage of registered nurses as more and more baby boomers retire.

The voluntary survey, known as the 2014 Illinois Registered Nurse Workforce Study, was completed by nearly 53,000 registered nurses, or around 30 percent of the total in Illinois.

One-third of all registered nurses 55 and older said they intend to retire within the next five years, potentially leaving voids in psychiatric, school and other nursing specialties. Those specialties are significantly lacking in the amount of registered nurses 25 to 35 in the PhD education pipeline who will be able to replace those approaching retirement.

The survey also determined that the cultural and gender diversity of Illinois’ future workforce of registered nurses is in decline, despite increasing diversity in the state as a whole.

“As more baby boomers approach retirement, it is essential that our health care industry has the ability to quantify the forthcoming need for additional health care professionals and other health care services,” said Bryan Schneider, the department’s secretary.

Workforce planners will be able to use the survey as a tool in determining what types of registered nurses will be in greatest demand, and which types of specialties and skills will be required of future models of care, he said.

Maureen Shekleton holds the advisory board chair at the Illinois Center for Nursing. She said understanding just what’s happening to the nursing workforce is vital to long-term planning.

“With this data, we can begin to address questions, such as what is the current (registered nurse) supply and will it be adequate to meet the health care needs of Illinois citizens,” Shekleton said.

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