BATON ROUGE, La. – Efforts to address Louisiana’s nursing shortage are yielding some results but not at the scale needed to meet an estimated shortage of approximately 6,000 registered nurses by 2030, a shortage of 40-plus percent. That was the message shared in two reports received by the Board of Regents during its monthly meeting today.
The Louisiana Health Works Commission is a legislatively created workgroup that reports annually on available resources relative to the state’s healthcare workforce needs. The Commission is comprised of representatives of postsecondary, legislative, and medical organizations.
The 2021 Health Works Commission Report finds increasing demand for and decreasing supplies of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), Registered Nurses (RN), and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN).
According to 2019-20 data in the Nursing Supply and Demand Council report, a subset of the Commission, Louisiana experienced:
- An 8% decrease in the number of students admitted to APRN programs in Louisiana and a 6% decrease in graduates compared to the previous year;
- A 23% increase in the number of students applying for admission to Louisiana’s pre-RN programs since 2016, as well as a 25% increase in applicants admitted;
- However, there has only been a 4% increase in pre-RN graduates during the same timeframe; and
- Admitting 70% of qualified LPN applicants compared to 64% the previous year with a general decline overall of 36% in graduates during the last 10 years.
Additionally, labor supply estimates for 2030 show nursing shortages are anticipated to continue if significant interventions are not undertaken. Data provided to Regents by Impact Econ Research show only 4,478 of the 10,660 available registered nurse positions will be filled in the future, leaving an average annual shortage of 618 registered nurses, or 42% of total demand.
“There is a palpable urgency to this work. As higher education leaders focused on talent development and increased attainment, it is imperative for Regents to be part of the solution in addressing these nursing shortages,” said Regents Chair Collis Temple III. “There is a premium being placed on qualified healthcare employees right now, so we must remove barriers to better meet demand and move the needle towards our Master Plan goal of doubling the number of adults with credentials of value by 2030.”
An analysis of Louisiana’s healthcare workforce pre-pandemic indicates that since 2015 shortages have been driven by workers leaving the sector as well as increased demand for services by patients. Another factor impacting the overall landscape is that a large share of the healthcare workers laid off during the early months of the pandemic never returned to their jobs, with the greatest labor shortage now among registered nurses.
Next steps in response to the Healthworks Commission report and research include:
- Identifying funding for academic-practice partnerships beyond nurse capitation to leverage public and private investments to encourage innovation and address regional healthcare workforce needs;
- Re-instating the nurse educator stipend; and
- Executing an action plan of recommendations prioritized by a Commission subcommittee (e.g., addressing faculty salary disparities and reviewing barriers within the healthcare workforce pipeline).
“Today’s discussion amplifies both the significant demand for more nurses and allied health graduates and the level of collaboration necessary to address these complex challenges,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “We know it will take education and healthcare providers working together to scale systemic solutions to these pressing problems, which are challenging our state and nation,” said Commissioner Reed.