McKinsey May 11, 2022
Gretchen Berlin, Meredith Lapointe, Mhoire Murphy, and Joanna Wexler

Analysis suggests potential instability and workforce gaps in the US healthcare sector. A call to action for all stakeholders could help.

The journey to becoming a nurse often begins with a desire to help improve people’s lives. In the years before COVID-19, the United States’ healthcare sector—while not without its challenges—had created a steady pipeline for those seeking to become registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs).1 For example, prepandemic, the number of new nursing licenses continued to grow at around 4 percent per year, infusing additional talent into the workforce to replace talent that retired.2

COVID-19 has altered many US nurses’ career plans. Over the past two years, McKinsey has found that nurses consistently, and increasingly, report planning to leave the workforce...

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