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Nursing workforce study highlights retirement and turnover rates, stressors, pandemic impact

By Linda Lindner and published by

A just-released data report is shining new light on the current state of New Jersey’s nursing workforce.

The 2023 edition of the Nursing Data and Analysis Report, from the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing, examines the state’s workforce with a focus on supply and demand for nursing, including retirement projections and turnover rates and pandemic impact. The report is intended to help policy- and decision-makers assess the current state of nursing in New Jersey, and then utilize the information to address obvious challenges.

Of particular significance is the rate of retirements and turnover of nurses either leaving the profession or changing jobs due to the pandemic and normally expected retirements.

The report indicates that 6% of Registered Nurses, 4% of Licensed Practical Nurses, and 3% of Advanced Practice Nurses have intent to leave the profession in the next two years. Over the next three years, there are not enough new graduates projected to replace those nurses retiring. New Jersey’s RN workforce is expected to decrease by 5%, while the availability of APNs will decline by 2%. Based on expected graduation rates, the LPN workforce is expected to have an excess of 9%. However, these numbers do not take into consideration the impact of other work environment challenges.

In terms of overall turnover among New Jersey’s nurses in 2021, the rate was 50% among LPNs, 24% among RNs and NPs at 29%. In 2021, RN turnover was 27% nationally.

“The data in this 2023 report brings into even clearer focus what we’ve already known — that we in New Jersey must address current supply and demand for nurses,” NJCCN Executive Director Edna Cadmus said. “Investing in the future of nursing is essential, because the ultimate result will be better health care for everyone.”

The release of the Nursing Data and Analysis Report draws additional attention to bill S2825/A4325, a proposal introduced by state Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge) that focuses on the varied needs of the state’s nurses. While the bill emphasizes education, faculty recruitment and retention of nurses, its overarching emphasis is enhancing nursing care throughout the state. Other bills have also been introduced in the Legislature, as well.

The 2023 report also focuses on societal issues impacting health care, including restricted access to care and climbing costs; high maternal mortality rates, particularly within populations of color; an aging population, with increased care needs; and expanded mental health concerns. Strategies for reducing the impact of turnover are also explored, including multistate licensure, expanded nursing residency programs for new graduates and nursing faculty loan redemption relief.

New Jersey has approximately 141,000 active RNs, 135,000 active APNs and 23,500 active LPNs providing services across multiple settings. Demand for nurses is currently outpacing supply, which stresses the labor market and impacts workforce stability.

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