From the 1980s to the 2000s, the number of young people going into nursing schools plummeted -- both nationally and in California. To reverse the trend, the government launched recruitment efforts to spur more people to go into nursing.
It looks like they did a pretty good job. The number of registered nurses nationwide skyrocketed in the past decade, according to a study released in today's Health Affairs, and recent grads aged 23-26 increased by 62 percent. There hasn't been a spike in nursing graduates like this in the U.S. since the 1970s.
And it's no different in California. Nursing school enrollments have doubled in the past decade, says Joanne Spetz, a nursing professor at UCSF and co-author of a UCSF report looking at California's nursing forecast. The report shows that in the past five years, the number of California nursing graduates has doubled. Spetz says that's because California also made huge efforts to recruit nursing students, like implementing accelerated degree programs.
As the Sacramento Bee reported yesterday:
California has spent at least $95 million in federal, state and private funds in the past decade to double the number of nursing graduates by expanding college programs and grants. As recently as three years ago, hospitals were offering moving expenses, housing allowances and signing bonuses to recent graduates of nursing schools.
Spetz says with the recession lingering, older nurses aren't retiring and hospitals aren't hiring. And that means it's harder for nurses across the country, including California, to find jobs.