AHA confirms nursing shortage

A new poll by the Washington, DC-based American Hospital Association (AHA) confirms what many health care professionals already knew: The health care work force shortage is a growing problem for hospitals across the country, and the nursing shortage accounts for the lion’s share of that shortfall. The survey of more than 700 hospitals found:

• Hospitals have up to 168,000 open positions; 126,000 of those positions are for registered nurses.

• The work force shortage is getting worse and is affecting access to care.

• Both urban and rural hospitals are feeling the effects of the staff shortages, although in general, rural hospitals have a larger percentage of open positions.

• A breakdown of hospital vacancy rates shows the following:

  • pharmacists, 21%;
  • radiological technologists, 18%;
  • laboratory technologists, 12%;
  • registered nurses, 11%.

"What this new survey shows is the astounding shortfall of workers that hospitals are already coping with today across the health care field," says Dick Davidson, AHA president. "America needs up to 126,000 nurses now. We need immediate action to help alleviate this situation." Davidson notes that Congress has already held three hearings this year on the future nursing shortage.