The Nursing Shortage and New Jersey

New Jersey is facing a very real and very serious health care crisis – growing long-term registered nurse and nurse faculty shortages that, in some way, will affect every person and every institution in the state. There are not enough faculty to educate all the nurses New Jersey needs to provide quality health care for the state’s residents. As a result, qualified nursing students are being turned away.  With many nursing professors approaching retirement, not enough people in the nurse faculty “pipeline” to replace them, and growing demand for nurses to care for an aging population with chronic conditions, the crisis is likely to worsen in coming years.

Nursing Shortage by the Numbers

  • As of 2012, New Jersey had a 17% shortfall of nurses. The 114,120 actively licensed RNs in the state are not enough to meet the demand.1
  • The long-term workforce projections for New Jersey show a shortfall of at least 40,000 nurses by 2020.2
  • There is currently a 10.5% vacancy rate for nurse faculty in New Jersey.3

Not Enough Nurses in the Pipeline

  • There are currently a total of 8,869 students enrolled in schools of nursing, with 2,146 new students enrolled this year.4
  • In order to meet the projected future health care needs of the state, New Jersey needs to triple the annual number of nursing school graduates from 2000 per year to 6,000 per year.5

Nurse Faculty Shortage

  • There are not enough nurse faculty in the pipeline in New Jersey to educate the nursing workforce of the future.6  As a result, qualified nursing school candidates are being turned away.
  • Many nurse faculty members are approaching retirement.  The average age for New Jersey nurse faculty is 57.7  In the next five years, 74 full time faculty members teaching in New Jersey nursing programs are expected to retire.8

Changing Demographics and Growing Needs

  • A nursing workforce shortage will make it impossible for New Jersey’s health care system to meet the health care needs of its residents. With 1.1 million residents over age 65 in 2007 rising to an estimated 1.8 million in 2020,9  the aging population, as well as the growing number of individuals with chronic illness such as obesity, diabetes, asthma and heart disease, will pose a challenge to the state’s ability to provide quality care.

1. NJ Collaborating Center for Nursing, November 2012
2. Susan Reinhard, Barbara Wright, Mary Ellen Cook, New Jersey’s Nursing Faculty Workforce: A Technical Report for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. January 2007
3. New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing 2010 faculty survey.
4. NJ Collaborating Center for Nursing, Enrollment Data From all NJ Nursing Schools as of October 15, 2008.
5. Susan Reinhard, Barbara Wright, Mary Ellen Cook, New Jersey’s Nursing Faculty Workforce: A Technical Report for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. January 2007
6. Susan Reinhard, Barbara Wright, Mary Ellen Cook, New Jersey’s Nursing Faculty Workforce: A Technical Report for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. January 2007
7. NJ Collaborating Center for Nursing, November 2012
8. Dickson, Geri I., NJ Collaborating Center for Nursing, 2009.
9. Dickson, Geri I., Setting the Stage: The New Jersey Nurse Shortage, August 2007.

November 8, 2012

Topics: Fast Facts & Policy / Nursing Education / Population Health

Resource type: Fact Sheet