Virginia is one of the states with the greatest deficit in nurses. Indeed, for every 100,000 residents, there are just 624 nurses, compared to a national average of 746. Additionally, the situation is getting worse. When the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics first determined the seriousness of the nursing shortage, Virginia ranked 40th. Now, it ranks 45th. And the shortage is only getting worse, as 16% of those in Virginia will be over 65 by 2028. Furthermore, with the new Affordable Care Act, an additional 1 million people are suddenly able to access healthcare.
Then, there is the fact that the nursing workforce is aging too. The average age of nurses in Virginia is 49. Half the workforce is now over 65, meaning they could retire at any given moment.
The state is looking at various opportunities to improve this situation. They are stepping up their recruitment efforts, and nurses are seeing an increase in their responsibilities in the hopes of increasing job satisfaction. Additionally, there is a strong drive to attract more men to the nursing workforce. Presently, only 6% of nurses nationwide are male.
The shortage is very complicated and there is no single, easy answer to resolve the problem. Just as many people as ever want to become a nurse. The field is interesting and jobs are plentiful. Unfortunately, across the country we are seeing schools having to turn nursing students away. There are currently 19 schools in Virginia that are accredited through the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, with some 9,129 students enrolled. Unfortunately, 1,595 students had to be denied a place because there is insufficient faculty staff to teach them. Additionally, the current Nurse Educator workforce is also aging and retiring.
Over the past few years, Virginia has raised its nursing school capacity and just over 3,000 nurses graduate every year. Additionally, to attract more Nurse Educators, they have increased their salaries by 10%. Furthermore, the state is one of the few states that have been able to maintain scholarships and grants, even though serious budget cuts had to be made across educational facilities. The average salary for a registered nurse in the state is $68,000, which is on par with the national average. However, those with the highest degrees, mainly bachelor’s or master’s, often earn substantially more, particularly when bonuses and other on-the-job perks are also taken into consideration.