August 11, 2023

Spotting a “skills mismatch” in the nursing pipeline

While last week’s graphic looked at how a wave of retirements has hit the nursing workforce, this week we take a look at the pipeline of nurses in training to fill that gap. In recent years, there has been a consistent stream of qualified applicants who want to become BSN nurses, but schools don’t have the capacity to admit them. One reason: an ongoing shortage of nursing faculty, which recent retirements have exacerbated. The percentage of nursing schools with at least one full-time faculty vacancy grew from 53 percent in 2019 to 62 percent in 2022. Looking at registered nurses (RNs), the number with active licenses has continued to grow at a much higher rate than the supply of licensed practice nurses (LPNs) with active licenses. The relatively small LPN workforce is especially significant, given rising interest in team-based nursing care, which aims to utilize a higher number of LPNs, supervised by RNs and BSNs. Expanding training programs with an eye toward the skills and mix needed to deliver team-based care will be critical to ensuring a stable, efficient nursing workforce for future decades.

Nurse Pipeline Graphic