There’s a rapidly growing shortage of paid and unpaid caregivers and nurses, which if left unremedied may lead to severe consequences. As the aging and disabled population expands and their medical needs grow in tandem, health analysts predict shortages approaching 150,000 paid and 3.8 million unpaid caregivers. Furthermore, the experts forecast a shortage of 355,000 paid health workers and nearly 11 million families left without greatly needed care for their loved ones.

What’s more, health care analysts contend that these are conservative estimates. The estimates don’t consider potential variations, such as increases in immigration or changes in family makeups, the latter being a real possibility as families grow smaller and move further away from their origins for work and other reasons. If this circumstance repeats itself on a large scale, the demand for health care professionals may rise even more. The following 7 arguments delve into more reasons why the United States needs more caregivers and nurses.

Reason 1: Demand Is Already High

The retiring Baby Boomer population will hit the health care segment hard. The Bureau of Labors Statistics (BLS) forecasts 4 million new nursing openings by the year 2020 and a shortage of 250,000 nurses by 2050 – not including demand for retiree replacements – creating a demand for and infusion of approximately 525,000 new nurses. The aging population is also raising the need for more nurses who can manage multiple chronic conditions.

Reason 2: There’s a Growing Shortage in the Field

As the population’s health needs rise, a shortage among the registered nurse pool may prove especially troublesome. The potential for scarcity among this group of skilled talent is especially high, as American nursing schools are struggling to graduate sufficient practitioners to meet the growing demand. In the meantime, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing is collaborating with universities, legislators and other nursing associations to remedy the situation.

Reason 3: There’s a Need for Leaders in the Field

The health needs of the population will also create a demand for more nurse leaders. As such, it’s vital that the United States health care system focus on producing nurse managers to replace retirees, maintain enterprise infrastructures and develop effective, modern organizational cultures.

Reason 4: There’s a Need for Updated Talent

Many caregivers and nurses trained in the 70’s. In fact, more than 40-percent of this group are due for retirement soon. This could leave a severe talent vacuum in the caregiving and nursing fields.

Reason 5: The Aging Population Is Expanding

The aging population is also demanding more individual treatment. While physicians have diagnosed approximately 80-percent of the group with one chronic condition, 68-percent of the group have two reoccurring illnesses, according to a report issued by the National Council on Aging, and other studies reveal that more than two-thirds of retired adults have been diagnosed with three or more chronic conditions.

Reason 6: Health Care Professionals Are Retiring

The nursing field in the United States is not immune to the circumstances and effects of time. As such, approximately one million registered nurses – about a third of the entire nursing talent pool – are slated for retirement over the next decade and a half. This trend was delayed by the 2008 recession, but now that the economy is once again on an upswing, working nurses feel more comfortable moving forward with their retirement plans.

Reason 7:  The Work Is Rewarding

Whether working as a nurse, paid or unpaid aide or a practitioner, individuals that work closely with patients every day naturally form an irrefutable bond. On top of these bonds, it is also worth noting that there are a number of financially rewarding healthcare professions as well, such as a Nurse Manager whose annual salary can be as high as $100,842.

In addition to developing bonds and financial perks, caregivers and practitioners often experience profound introspection spurred by their interactions. This kind of work often leads health service providers to consider the choices that they make in the future as they head toward the golden years of their lives.

Some large employers recognize the growing demand for caregivers in the United States and, as a result, provide discount arrangements with local caregiving agencies. Other firms offer free or discounted emergency adult day care services to ensure that families have coverage when their family’s care provider calls in sick. Whether or not an employer offers perks, now is a good time to look closer at available care provider options, before the need for help arises.

Caregiving work commonly leads individuals to consider careers in nursing. Home health aides that enjoy their work may want to consider the possibility of furthering their careers. In the years ahead, openings in the field will expand immensely.

Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life, including her position as a yoga instructor and raising her two children. When she’s not watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.

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