A crowded waiting room full of patients.

Shortage of nurses

In 2013, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a global shortage of healthcare workers of 7.2 million; the organisation estimated that this shortage would increase to 12.9 million by 2035 (WHO 2013).

Nurses compose the largest professional group in healthcare in most countries, a fundamental component of frontline staff whose work is necessary for delivery of safe and effective care.

The International Council of Nurses suggest that the world has entered a critical period for health-related human resources, the shortage of nurses posing a significant challenge, locally, nationally and globally to maintaining and improving health (Buchan and Calman 2006).


Buchan J. and Calman L. (2006) ‘The Global Shortage of Registered Nurses: An Overview of Issues and Actions’. International Council of Nurses [online] available from http://www.icn.ch/publications/the-global-shortage-of-registered-nurses-an-overview-of-issues-and-actions/ [20 October 2017]

World Health Organisation. (2013) Global health workforce shortage to reach 12.9 million in coming decades [online] available from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2013/health-workforce-shortage/en/ [20 October 2017]

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This article is from the free online course:

Nursing in Crisis? Exploring Current Challenges

Coventry University