How Nursing Regulations Contribute to the Nursing Shortage

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The United States has more nurses than any other country in the world, numbering greater than three million workers.1 Despite this sizeable workforce, debates surrounding nursing shortages in the US have persisted for decades. The large number of licensed nurse personnel also distinguishes the vocation as the second largest group of licensed professionals in the United States.2,3 In fact, nurse professionals are regulated through various methods, including licensure, educational standards, and background checks. Regulations (i.e. licensure and educational requirements) may conceivably contribute to the nursing shortage while failing to control quality by restricting entry into the profession. Milton Friedman (1962) made the cogent argument against licensing physicians in Capitalism and Freedom: I am persuaded that licensure has reduced both the quantity and quality of medical practice...It has reduced the opportunities for people to become physicians, it has forced the public to pay more for less satisfactory service, and it has retarded technological development...I conclude tha...

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