Show Me the Nursing Shortage: Location Matters in Missouri Nursing Shortage


      Across the United States, data show that nursing shortages exist in many parts of the country.


      This descriptive research study seeks to identify nursing shortage and nurse age differences by county in Missouri and aims to determine whether the distribution of nurses is even across rural and urban areas.


      Using nursing workforce data based on licensed nurses, geographic mapping was performed to show nurse distribution and age cohorts at the county level in Missouri. The number of nurses per 10,000 residents was the ratio used to show nursing population density by county.


      Eleven metropolitan, 4 micropolitan, and 12 rural counties had the lowest ratio of nurses to 10,000 population at 18 to 49. By comparison, 2 metropolitan, 2 micropolitan, and 0 rural areas had the highest ratio at 198 to 327. There were several counties in which 42% to 58% of nurses were older than 54 years.


      There is a disparity in both the number of nurses and the age of nurses in metropolitan, micropolitan, and rural areas. Understanding the factors that contribute to differential nurse practice patterns by geographic regions in states such as Missouri is essential to inform nursing policy and craft workforce solutions.


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      Lori Scheidt, MBA-HCM, is the Executive Director, Missouri State Board of Nursing, Jefferson City, Missouri.


      Anne Heyen, DNP, RN, CNE, is the President, Missouri State Board of Nursing, and Assistant Teaching Professor, University of Missouri- Columbia.


      Tracy Greever-Rice, PhD, is the Director, Center for Health Policy, and Assistant Research Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia.