Are We Producing Too Many Nurses?

Point and Counterpoint ...

A recent posting on the Minnesota Public Radio blog suggested that Minnesota (and other states) are producing more nursing graduates than necessary. The analysis uses data from Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. (EMSI). A written response from the National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers can be downloaded from Forum Response to EMSI

Center staff are not in a position to comment on Minnesota, but the data in the blog also indicated that Colorado’s annual need for new nurses (replacement for retiring nurses plus expansion for population growth) is only 1,830 and Colorado schools of nursing graduated 2,660 nurses per year, prompting the “overproduction?” question.

The flaw in the blog commentary is that national workforce projections such as this (covering all types of occupations for all regions) rely heavily on assumptions and equations to make projections, not specific data. A more detailed and fact-based analysis gives a very different result for Colorado.

1. There are currently 21,000 licensed registered nurses in Colorado over the age of 55 (indicating an annual retirement rate of 2,100 nurses) and the state is projected to grow at 100,000 residents per year for the next decade (generating a need for 800 new nurses per year just to stay even with our current population-to-nurse ratio). Even using the conservative assumption that no nurse wil