What Is the Reason for Shortage of Nurses in USA and Canada?

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One of the oldest occupations is nursing, which is essential to every healthcare system. Nursing is typically viewed as a professional, respected, and relatively high-paying profession in Canada and the USA.

Over 448,000 nurses work in Canada, accounting for a sizable portion of the medical workforce. But despite having numerous nurses and paying them well, Canada is experiencing a nursing shortage.

Similarly, the COVID-19 outbreak has drawn attention to the healthcare workforce in America. The nurse shortage, which started in 2012 and is predicted to continue through 2030, has received increased attention due to this spotlight. 

  • The nursing shortage was felt during the COVID-19 pandemic, which demanded more nurses than ever in public health.
  • The pandemic did have one benefit, though, as, after 2020, applications to nursing programs nationwide increased, showing that the epidemic had motivated more people to pursue careers in nursing. 
  • However, there is still a nurse shortage in the USA and Canada despite this rise in new nursing candidates.

The large number of nurses leaving the field and the lack of new nurses joining the workforce are the main causes of the nursing shortage. 

Reasons for Nurses Leaving Their Profession

There are various reasons why many nurses are leaving their profession. Let’s look at some of them down below.


Simply retiring is the primary cause of nurses exiting the field. It is normal for this to occur in all businesses, of course. However, since nurses in Canada typically retire earlier than the general population, they spend less time working. Similarly, many nurses in the USA who will retire over the next ten years are those who will be in their mid-60s.

A shortage of nurses qualified to instruct and teach new nurses has also been caused by the retirement of experienced nurses. Nursing programs nationwide need qualified instructors to fill their positions as existing nurse educators retire.


Burnout is another factor contributing to the exodus of nurses from the field. The nursing shortage has both a cause and a symptom of burnout. 

  • Nurses are under more pressure and stress in understaffed nursing facilities. Burnout can occur quickly due to the mental and physical toll this strain takes.
  • Long hours and difficult work can make nursing a stressful career. 
  • For many medical workers, especially nurses, the COVID-19 pandemic was exceptionally difficult and draining. 
  • Nursing burnout and a lack of support are widespread and cause skilled nurses to quit their jobs or go to other healthcare positions.

Inefficient Retention

Because hospitals and other businesses have not successfully kept nurses, some are abandoning the field. The discrepancy in compensation between various nurses is the main reason for this.

Moreover, there aren’t enough benefits of working in remote areas to entice nurses to live and work there. This results in either a low number of nurses applying for such roles or a high turnover rate because of low pay.

Reasons Behind the Shortage of New Nurses

There aren’t enough new nurses to take the places of those departing, which is the second aspect of the nursing shortage. Below are given some of the reasons for this.

Lack of Qualified Nursing Trainers

To instruct young nurses in the science and art of nursing, there is a lack of trained, experienced nursing instructors. As a result, institutions only accept as many students as they can train, despite the number of young people who apply for nursing courses. The lack of competent instructors significantly worsens the nursing shortage.

Younger nurses entering the workplace must complete various levels of training. The training these younger nurses undergo is not as good as earlier nurses’ training due to a lack of qualified trainers. As a result, care settings may not always benefit from hiring younger nurses.

Even when a hospital has the right number of nurses on staff, inexperienced or young nurses might not be able to deliver the required quality of care. As a result, there is a constant nursing shortage even if some hospitals have enough nurses.

Shortages in Clinical Placement

There is a shortage of clinical placements for nursing students, in addition to the lack of qualified nursing trainers. Clinical experiences allow nursing students to gain practical experience, which is essential to their education. Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 epidemic, these opportunities for hands-on learning were also severely constrained.

To ensure that nursing students have a sufficient education before joining the industry, a concerted effort must be made to enhance the number of clinical placements and training options available.

Nursing has Lost its appeal.

Future occupations are evaluated by young people based on possible wages, difficulties, and a healthy work-life balance. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding nursing includes the horror stories about working extra shifts, dealing with overworked doctors, demanding patients and surgeons, and being underpaid and underappreciated.

It’s not surprising that nursing as a career path has completely lost its appeal to young people, and they are avoiding it because health care is frequently overburdened.


Why nurses are important?

Nurses are important because they actively promote health, inform patients and the general public about ways to avoid illnesses and injuries, participate in rehabilitation, and offer care and support.10

Why do nurses wear scrubs?

Nurses wear scrubs because they are simple to wash and maintain clean, which is essential when working in a medical setting. In addition, the antibacterial material used in current scrubs helps shield medical professionals and patients from infections.

Why are nurses quitting their jobs?

Nurses are quitting their jobs due to low income and benefits, followed by burnout and stressful workplaces as the main causes.

How can we fix the nursing shortage?

The foundation for increasing the number of trained nurses is education. The best way to fix the nursing shortage is to develop programs encouraging students to enroll in nursing school, finish their degrees, and further their education to advance their skills and professions.

Is the nursing shortage getting worse?

Yes, the nursing shortage is indeed getting worse. It has been amplified by the covid-19 pandemic and is projected to get even worse.

When did the nursing shortage start?

The first nursing shortage occurred in the middle of the 1930s due to a combination of technological, financial, and healthcare-related developments that increased the demand for nurses and set the stage for a shortfall.

What is the average age of nurses?

Registered nurses are 52 years old on average. In contrast, the average age of nursing students is between their late 20s and early 30s.

Do nurses make good money?

The type of nurse someone is, and the type of license they possess determines how much they make. Nurses might earn as little as $33,000 per year or up to $202,500.

Author: Syed Hasan

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