Does a ‘Shadow Workforce’ of Inactive Nurses Exist?

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Executive SummaryOne of many solutions posed to address the nursing workforce shortage stems from the opportunity to re-engage individuals who were trained as nurses, but are not currently working in the field.In attempt to assess reasons for leaving nursing and consideration for re-entering nursing, individuals with lapsed or inactive RN licenses were surveyed in a small, rural state.When asked about their reasons for leaving, retirement (64%) and family reasons (52%) ranked highest followed by other non-nursing opportunities, work environment stress, physical strain, paperwork, and work schedule.In a sample of respondents ranging in age from 30 to 94, only 15% cited any interest in re-entry.The most commonly cited issue influencing the decision to re-enter was the accessibility of reentry programs (95%), work schedule (90%), cost of re-entry programs, and orientation.Other benefits related to continuing education opportunities (58%-73%) were much more important than Magnet recognition (30%), collective bargaining (24%), or child/elder care (22%).Given the limited interest in reentry, the study concluded that the opportunity to impact the nursing shortage through reentry is quite limited.

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