Staff Shortage in United States Hospitals


The U.S. health care is one of the most advanced ones worldwide, and many countries aspire to build their own systems which would function as effectively. In 2018, the number of physician visits in the United States stood at more than eight hundred million (“Ambulatory care use,” 2021). Such numbers show that the services of health care professionals are in high demand, and practically all citizens need to receive medical help in a fast and efficient manner. Nevertheless, U.S. health care also faces certain challenges and issues which can potentially disrupt its effectiveness and quality, making it difficult to deliver services to patients. One of the main problems is the staff shortage in U.S. hospitals which exists across different positions from nurses to medical specialists.

Shortages of Physicians

Physicians are usually the first doctors patients encounter when receiving health care services, and therefore, they play a significant role in maintaining the health of the nation. In 2019, the estimated shortage among physicians was around twenty thousand people, which was rather manageable (Association of American Medical Colleges). Nevertheless, the onset of the pandemic became a factor which considerably disrupted the existing efforts to improve the supply of such specialists. Namely, the pandemic led to interruptions in the training of new physicians and caused numerous exits due to deaths and burn-outs (Association of American Medical Colleges). As a result, the current estimates show that in the near future, the shortage among such professionals will rise and can reach 124,000 physicians by 2034 (Association of American Medical Colleges). Thus, it is essential that the government introduces certain programs to resolve the situation.

Shortages of Nurses

The demand for nursing professionals is on the rise since such specialists are always needed in hospitals and other health care facilities. Research projects that the number of nurses will grow in the next decade and will reach 3.3 million people by 2029 (American Association of Colleges of Nursing). Yet, such growth will still not satisfy the existing demand because it will increase even at a faster rate. Reports state that the shortage in the realm of registered nurses will continue steadily rising until 2030 and will be most prominent in the South of the country (American Association of Colleges of Nursing). As a result, the nursing shortage will be difficult to counter because too many people are needed.

The nursing shortage has a variety of underlying factors, and several efforts have been undertaken to resolve them. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation promoted the increase in the number of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80%, yet currently, the number is lower than 65% (American Association of Colleges of Nursing). The causes of the shortage are numerous, yet the main one is the lack of resources. The number of nursing faculty is small, while clinical sites and classroom space are insufficient, as well as there are budget constraints (American Association of Colleges of Nursing). Additionally, many active nurses are approaching their retirement since the average age for a nurse in the United States is 50 years (American Association of Colleges of Nursing). Thus, the need for new and younger nurses is going to rise in the near future, and special measures are required to address it.

Shortages of Surgeons

Surgeons are also vital for the provision of quality health care services, yet the shortage of such specialists is also present in the United States. The demand for surgeons is also set to increase in the upcoming years, and it is projected to exceed the potential supply in the near future (Association of American Medical Colleges). The lack of surgeons is also can be attributed to the problem with training and insufficient funding, as well as an absence of programs for promoting surgical specialties. Thus, according to research, the forecasted shortage among surgeons by 2034 will be more than thirty thousand professionals (Association of American Medical Colleges). The deficits can lead to considerable problems for hospitals and subsequently negatively impact patient care.

It is clear that the existing shortages in the health care system have immediate negative effects and consequences. The main problem of the shortages is the inability of patients to receive quality care within a short period of time. Since shortages reduce the availability of specialists, people are forced to wait in lines at times several months to receive medical services. Additionally, the decrease in the supply drives the demand and subsequently the price of professionals’ services. As a result, health care becomes less affordable, especially for people with limited resources and without insurance coverage. The poor access to health care can eventually cause a higher death rate in the country and a shorter life expectancy.

How to Resolve the Situation

Nevertheless, there are measures which can be implemented to address the current situation with shortages and increase the number of professionals. The most obvious step is to highlight the importance of preventive actions and promote healthy lifestyles among the population. If more people begin to embrace healthy habits by eating well-balanced diets and exercising, the need for health care services will decrease. Another solution to the shortages is attracting more people to the sphere of health care by providing them with various benefits such as rural allowance policies proven effective in other countries (Park, H., & Yu, 2019). Younger generations will be motivated to become nurses and doctors if they see that these professions will guarantee them a high income and other advantages such as favorable working conditions.

Additionally, it is reasonable to increase the number of faculty across the country to satisfy the current demand among health care professionals for advanced training. Online degrees also can be offered as part of the policy in order to reduce expenses and facilitate the provision of training. It is also important to introduce effective tools for collecting updated data on the existing shortages in different hospitals across the country. With the help of nursing and physician databases, health care authorities will be able to target specific regions with the most difficult situations. Finally, the legislation and policies should be adjusted to make the process of training and hiring new professionals more efficient. In order to do it, nurses and physicians can be asked to provide their insights and perspectives on how to improve the situation.

Dissemination Plan

The dissemination plan for the current report will include presenting it at a conference, publishing it online on social media, and in different professional publications. I would present the report on the American Hospital Association Annual Meeting since it is one of the main events which attracts numerous health care system stakeholders. American Hospital Association Annual Meeting is a conference created for sharing insights and perspectives on U.S. health care, and the report will fit in its context. Additionally, the report can be published and disseminated online on social media in order to attract a large audience of readers. Finally, the report can be offered to professional publications such as the Journal of Professional Nursing to gain the attention of the specialists.


The U.S. health care system, despite being one of the most effective ones, experiences considerable shortages in many spheres. There are shortages of nurses, physicians, and surgeons, which are expected to grow substantially in the next years. The current measures are insufficient for satisfying the demand for health care professionals, and additional steps must be taken. Shortages can lead to more expensive medical services and the loss of access to health care among numerous citizens of the country. Thus, it is essential that new measures are introduced, such as an increase in the number of faculty and guarantees of higher incomes to professionals.


Ambulatory care use and physician office visits. (2021). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2020). Fact sheet: Nursing shortage

Association of American Medical Colleges. (2021). The complexities of physician supply and demand: Projections from 2019 to 2034

Park, H., & Yu, S. (2019). Effective policies for eliminating nursing workforce shortages: A systematic review. Health Policy and Technology, 8, 296–303.

Find out your order's cost