The future of health care in the United States increasingly pivots on
a sufficient supply of appropriately educated and skilled professional registered
nurses (RNs). The study by Buerhaus and colleagues1
in this issue of THE JOURNAL should create concern among physicians and RNs
as well as others charged with providing, managing, or financing health care
services. Buerhaus et al forecast that the future sufficient availability
of RNs is not ensured given the continued aging of the RN workforce and the
decreased propensity for potential students to choose nursing careers. The
most important factors contributing to the aging of the nursing workforce
are a long-term trend of declining interest in nursing by women, who today
enjoy a wide choice of career opportunities, and the decrease in the number
of individuals born after 1955 who have pursued nursing as a career.1
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