US Rural Hospitals Struggle with Shortage of Nurses

Female Nurse

Rural hospitals in the U.S. currently struggle with a shortage of nurses even as government data shows that the number of registered nurses is bound to increase through 2024. Healthcare staffing remains tight primarily due to workload, which makes it hard to attract and retain qualified personnel.

While a hospitalist program effectively recruits needed doctors for general care, a service provided by firms such as Emergency Staffing Solutions, nurses still play an important part in the system since the number of patients continues to increase in numbers.

Travel Nursing

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics prediction that registered nurses in the country will grow by around 16% in the next seven years, rural facilities will still find it difficult to fill in vacancies due to emerging trends in the industry such as travel nursing jobs.

This type of employment scheme speaks for itself; nurses travel anywhere in the country without a permanent site for work. Compensation emerged as the top reason for its popularity, as it pays significantly more than working as a nurse in a rural hospital.

Aside from that, proposed changes to a visa program may further escalate the problem of not only fewer nurses but also the number of doctors in the U.S.

Immigration Issues

U.S. hospitals’ recruitment of foreign doctors that seek residency in the country has become uncertain, following President Donald Trump’s suspension of a 15-day streamlined process for granting H-1B visas to them.

The suspension affects overseas professionals specializing in medicine and information technology. Some hospitals have allowed these doctors to keep their jobs, although the looming expiry of their visas has caused them to be unsure if they could retain their right to stay in the U.S.

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The U.S. healthcare industry faces significant workforce and regulatory concerns. With an aging population of existing nurses and immigration problems for offshore doctors, the government and private sector should work together to prevent the consequences of inadequate staff.