What does the Staffing Shortage cost?

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

On Average, being short staffed increases turnover by 15% a year. And costs $4 Million - $6 Million.

Staffing shortages of nurses and Nurse Aides (CNA)s in American health systems

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) form an important part of the healthcare services. A number of important activities like monitoring the patients, helping patients with their day-to-day activities and maintaining a clean, healthy as well as positive environment. They do not just look after the physical care of the patients but also provide them with mental and emotional support that results in better outcomes. However, currently, we are facing a shortage of CNAs. According to the Statistics of the US Bureau of Labor, it has been reported that in order to avoid further shortage of nurses, around 11 million more nurses are required


What’s the shortage?

Currently, major cities of the United States with high populations are needing more nurses. Since the year 2012, around 60,000 nurses have retired and it has been predicted that by the end of the decade, around 75,000 nurses would retire. It has been reported that the employment opportunities for nurses should be growing at a rate of 15% faster as compared to other occupations for the year 2016 to 2026 as we are currently facing a shortage of experienced nurses

According to a research conducted by American Association of Colleges of Nursing, it has been reported that insufficient staffing has caused around 13% of the nurses to change their career [5]. The turnover of nurses is caused due to nurse burnout, low job satisfaction, family conditions, emotional and mental threat at a stressful environment like hospitals. Currently, the national average turnover rates for nurses varies from 8.8% to 37% based on the geographic locations and the specialty of nurses [1]. A shortage of nurses arises due to lack of educated nurses. Even aspiring candidates cannot complete their nurse studies due to educational hurdles like lack of proper teachers and financial problems. Apart from that, the retirement rates for CNAs are increasing with less number of new nurses that is causing a decline in the current staffing of CNAs.

Currently, the elderly population in the US is higher than ever. In 2029, the baby boomer generations will be reaching their retirement ages which will cause a 73% increase in the population of above 65 [1]. A rise in the elderly population will further increase the demand for healthcare services. Therefore, it could be predicted that the shortage of nurses might increase more in the next decade.

What is it costing both financially and in other ways?

The lack of human personnel in the field of healthcare is one of the major obstacles in achieving an effective as well as efficient healthcare organization. A shortage in nurses causes the staffing ratios like nurse-patient ratio to increase that results in errors, decreased patient satisfaction, increased morbidity and mortality.

A lack of proper nurse practitioners is costing the healthcare sector around $4.2 million annually [6]. Apart from the financial loss of the Healthcare organizations, the shortage of nurse staffing might also impact the overall health care policies of a particular country. According to the World Health Organization, it has been observed that the lack of human resources results in a negative impact on the overall healthcare sector.

More than 80% of people over the age of 65 suffer from a chronic disorder [6]. As the number of elderly population is increasing in the U.S. due to the baby boomer retirement, the requirement of nurses would increase. A lack of proper CNAs staffing would affect the overall quality of the healthcare entities that can in turn affect the overall health of the US population. A number of schemes are currently being implemented by the government or separate healthcare entities to manage the loss of health and wealth caused due to the shortage of CNAs. Proper planning centered around the empowerment of nursing practitioners could help a country to decrease it’s shortage of nurse staffing.


  1. Haddad Lisa, et. al., “Nursing Shortage”, StatPearls, 2020.

  2. Buchan James, Aiken Linda, “Solving nursing shortages: a common priority”, Journal of clinical nursing, 2010.

  3. visited on 11 Febraury, 2021.

  4. visited on 11 February, 2021.

  5. visited on 11 February, 2021.

  6. visited on 11 Febraury, 2021.

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