Until nurses are included in reimbursement models, expect them to continue to leave the profession in droves - MedCity News

Researchers predict that the US healthcare industry will be short 2.1 million nurses by 2025. Incorporating them into reimbursement models may be the most effective way to address the nursing profession’s mass attrition, according to Rebecca Love, who is a nurse practitioner and chief clinical officer at the nursing recruitment platform, technology based IntelyCare.

She shared that idea Sunday during a panel at HLTH in Las Vegas. Interestingly, moderator Bonnie Clipper, a nurse and managing partner of Advantage of innovationindicated that the session was the first conference panel focused on hearing nurses’ voices.

Love provided some key statistics that are necessary to understand the true state of the nursing shortage crisis.

The first fact to consider is that there are five million nurses in the U.S. when counting licensed nurses and registered nurses, according to Love. She said that means nurses are not only the largest workforce in health care, but among the largest in the country.

Love also addressed the fact that many of the nation’s nurses are nearing retirement age, saying half of America’s nurses are over the age of 52.

The US needs a huge influx of young nurses to fill the gap that will soon inevitably be left by older ones, but the current situation for recent nursing graduates is not very rosy. The U.S. graduates 175,000 nursing students a year, but many end up quickly leaving the profession, according to Love.

Before the pandemic, about half of new graduate nurses left the bedside within two years of practice, Love said. When you look at recent graduates who have left the profession since May 2021, she said that number has jumped to 70%.

“Never before have there been more nurses in the United States than there are today,” Love explained. “There are more nurses in the United States today than at any time in history—1.5 million more today than even 10 years ago. We have no shortage of nurses. We have a shortage of nurses willing to work in healthcare settings as they are staffed.’

Healthcare workers are leaving the industry for a variety of occupations, but the situation for nurses is particularly dire. A big reason so many nurses leave health care is that even though their care is an indispensable part of the delivery of all hospital care, it is “economically irreplaceable,” Love argues.

She called out the reality that nurses are “a cost to health care systems.” According to Love, we should be asking more questions about why nurses don’t have a reimbursement model—because that’s certainly not the case for other healthcare professionals who provide care.

“Until we fix the reimbursement model, we’re just going to have a profession that will stop being practiced in health care as it is today,” Love said.

Photo: gpointstudio, Getty Images

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