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U.S. Must Act to Recruit and Retain Nurses, GSA Member Tells Senate

For Immediate Release
February 16, 2023

Contact: Todd Kluss
(202) 587-2839

Speaking today at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Dean Sarah Szanton, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA, told lawmakers about factors contributing to a national nursing crisis and offered some solutions for consideration.

Senators convened the hearing, titled “Examining Health Care Workforce Shortages: Where Do We Go From Here?” to focus on the nationwide health care professionals shortage among nurses, doctors, dentists, social workers, and mental health services providers.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States will face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034, including 48,000 primary care physicians. The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration reports that nearly 100 million Americans live in areas without enough primary medical health care providers and about 70 million Americans live in areas without enough dental providers.

Szanton, who was called on to highlight nursing shortages, said that the nation needs between 200,000 and 500,000 more nurses in addition to the 4.5 million that are currently the largest part of the health care workforce.

“Our country is perilously short of nurses, and those we do have are often not working in the settings that could provide the most value. This was true before the COVID pandemic, and has become more acute since COVID struck,” said Szanton in her testimony.

Szanton currently is the dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, where she is also the Patricia M. Davidson Professor for Health Equity and Social Justice. She is a fellow of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA).

“As a country, we need people to become new nurses and to retain current nurses. And there are many steps to both,” Szanton said.

She also emphasized that the U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage of approximately 2,100 nurse faculty in nursing schools.

“We need to increase the number of highly educated nurses who can be faculty in the U.S. To retain them, we need to pay them on par with what they can earn clinically,” she said.

Szanton urged the Senators on the committee to support the Future Advancement of Academic Nursing Act, passage of which would address the areas of need she highlighted, “solving barriers for students, preceptors, faculty, and enhancing infrastructure.”


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society.

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