NY Legislature Contemplates Exacerbating Nurse Shortage

In an impressive blend of illogic and cartelization, New York is considering “addressing” a looming shortage of nurses by making it harder to become a nurse:

New registered nurses would have to earn bachelor’s degrees within 10 years to keep working in New York under a bill lawmakers are considering as part of a national push to raise educational standards for nurses, even as the health care industry faces staffing shortages.

The “BSN in 10” initiative backed by nursing associations and major health policy organizations aims to attack the complex problem of too few nurses trained to care for an aging population that includes hundreds of thousands of nurses expected to retire in the coming years. But some in the health care industry worry that increased education requirements could worsen the problem by discouraging entrants into the field.

As a quick rule of thumb, you address quality problems by raising standards and quantity problems by lowering them. If there are “too few” nurses then the last thing you want to do is impose new requirements.

Also keep in mind that when you’re evaluating a proposed occupational licensing scheme watch for whether the new requirements will be imposed on incumbents or not. In this case, it’s only new registered nurses who would need the more elaborate degree. That way all incumbents win by diminishing the supply of nurses and nobody needs to suffer by actually having the new standards imposed on them.