California's San Joaquin Valley Faces Nurse Shortfall


Joanne Spetz, Janet Coffman and Timothy Bates

March 26, 2018

While the demand for registered nurses (RNs) in California’s San Joaquin Valley is projected to grow by more than 35 percent by 2030, the region’s total number of RNs will decline. This will result in a serious shortfall that must be addressed now, according to our new report.

This report presents supply and demand forecasts for the RN workforce in California from 2017 through 2030. These new forecasts are based on data from the 2016 California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) Survey of Registered Nurses, the 2015-2016 BRN Annual Schools Report, data extracted from the BRN license records and other state and national data sources.

Key Findings:

  • The total number of RNs will decline between 2017 and 2030 in all but the most optimistic scenarios and RN full-time equivalents (FTEs) will decline in all scenarios.
  • Demand for RNs is projected to grow more than 35 percent.
  • The San Joaquin Valley is projected to experience a shortage of between 6,191 and 9,944 nurses by 2030.

Policy Implications and Recommended Actions:

  • The primary policy solution for the projections of large RN shortages in the San Joaquin Valley is to increase the number of graduates from education programs in the region. This requires financial investment, as well as the identification of qualified faculty.
  • Education institutions in the San Joaquin Valley will need to focus on faculty recruitment and retention, in order to maintain and grow their education programs.
  • Employers in the San Joaquin Valley will need to work with education institutions outside the region to recruit nurses to live and work in the Valley.
  • Employers will need to redouble their efforts to retain RNs in the region, as well as to retain RNs nearing retirement age.

Join Us

This project was produced by Healthforce Center at UCSF, which prepares health care organizations to drive and navigate change through actionable, in-depth research, leadership development and by connecting thousands of alumni, researchers and other seasoned leaders to solve some of health care’s biggest challenges. Healthforce will host an April 9 webinar to discuss the results of a second report with a California-wide focus, which found that Central Valley chief nursing officers (CNOs) are more likely to report a shortage of RNs than CNOs in other regions of the state. Sign up for our newsletter to get updates on this report, in addition to other health workforce research insights, trends and leadership opportunities.