The attempt to forecast the demand for nurses at both the state and national level has been an ongoing process. A review of the literature which has been produced on the subject has not yielded any conclusive results, particularly at the state level, and no demand model for nursing has been produced which is not fatally flawed.
A major obstacle to the development of a usable demand model for nursing is the standardization of the definition for “demand”. In microeconomics, demand refers to the amount of a good that consumers are both willing and able to purchase at a given price per unit of time. According to the “Law of Demand”, the lower the price of a good, the larger the quantity consumers will want to purchase (Browning and Zupan, 2002). However, use of this concept becomes problematic when it is used in labor market analysis. Most states which have developed a demand model for nurses do not attempt to define the concept of “demand”. There is a tendency, as the District of Columbia (DC) did in its 2001 prediction of the demand for nursing personnel, to utilize the term “demand” synonymously with “demand for labor”. In the DC study, demand for labor was defined as the number of jobs either filled or vacant that exist for qualified people at a specific point in time. The lack of standardization of economic terms which are utilized in the state demand models is contributing to the failure of the long-range forecasting process for nursing nationwide.