January 21, 2021

2020 Nursing Workforce Report provides essential insights into the healthcare needs of Missourians

Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Commerce & Insurance recently announced the release of the 2020 Nursing Workforce Report. This report provides essential insights into the current state of nursing and how nursing directly impacts the healthcare needs of Missourians, said Missouri State Board of Nursing Executive Director Lori Scheidt.

“This is the most comprehensive report on the nursing workforce ever produced; capturing a little over 96 percent of workforce information on actively licensed nurses. Of highest concern is the high rate of nurses nearing retirement and low number of nurses employed in rural areas,” said Scheidt.

Identifying geographic shortages can assist nursing regulatory bodies, nursing education programs, and employers with developing education models that can alleviate the shortage.

One example cited by Scheidt of actions taken to combat nursing shortages in Missouri was in 2019 when the Missouri State Board of Nursing (MSBN) approved an “earn while you learn” education model. This allowed fourth semester associate degree nursing students to earn a wage while engaging in hands-on clinical learning through an apprenticeship model. That same year, the MSBN approved a nursing home-nursing education program partnership model to allow the nursing home to grow their own licensed nurses. This particular nursing home has a severe nursing shortage and is located in a rural area of the state.

“A one-size, fits all approach is not appropriate to solve the regional shortages. As new education models are approved, these strategies must be evaluated for impact and long term changes,” said Scheidt.  

By examining the average age of nurses in geographic areas, nursing regulators can examine solutions that might address future shortages. It stands to reason that if nurses enter the profession at an earlier age, the average age of nurses would decrease. One such solution is to offer dual enrollment courses with colleges so individuals may enter the nursing profession at a younger age. This solution could be helpful in lowering the average age of nurses, particularly in Missouri counties where a large portion of the nurses are aged 54 years or greater.  These counties will need a larger number of nurses in the coming years and lowering the average age of nurses could help even out the nurses entering versus leaving the profession.

Boards of nursing and policymakers are best positioned to fulfill their public protection mandate when they understand the dynamics of the nursing workforce. This workforce analysis indicates that Missouri has shortages in certain geographic areas of the state and provides the board with valuable information to target solutions. For nursing regulatory bodies, simply approving more education programs or increasing student enrollments is not enough. The MSBN does and will continue to promote innovation in how nurses are educated and support different education models.

The 2020 Nursing Workforce Report can be found on the Division of Professional Registration’s website at: https://pr.mo.gov/boards/nursing/2020-workforce-report.pdf .

The Division of Professional Registration provides administrative support to 42 professional licensing boards and commissions responsible for licensing and regulating the activities of approximately 493,000 Missourians. Boards are responsible for regulatory oversight for 254 different trades and professions which include: real estate appraisers and brokers, social workers, nursing, athletic agents, and tattooing—just to name a few.

The division exists to serve and protect the public from incompetency, misconduct, gross negligence, fraud, misrepresentation or dishonesty by providing an accessible, responsible and accountable regulatory system that licenses only qualified professionals by examination and evaluation of minimum competency and enforces standards by implementing legislation and administrative rules.

The Department of Commerce & Insurance protects Missouri consumers through oversight of the insurance industry, banks, credit unions, utilities and various professional licensees operating in the state. For more information on DCI, please visit our website at https://pr.mo.gov/.