Nursing shortage affects rural Missourians more, MU study finds

Rural Missouri counties also have highest percentage of nurses over age 54, nearing retirement.

July 2, 2021


Brian Consiglio: While the United States is currently facing a nursing shortage, a new study at the University of Missouri shows the demand for more nurses is greater in some parts of Missouri compared to others. Assistant teaching professor Anne Heyen reviewed workforce data of licensed Missouri nurses to identify geographical and age disparities across the state.

Heyen: “What we found was that rural areas tend to have fewer nurses when compared to their population than urban areas.”

Consiglio: Heyen also found that rural Missouri counties have a higher percentage of older nurses nearing retirement, which could have a severe impact of the future of the state’s nursing workforce.

Heyen: “Across the state, we can anticipate issues with the nursing workforce in the coming years. The time to take action on this stuff is now knowing that if we don’t do something now, these shortages really will happen.”

Consiglio: To help meet the nursing shortage, the Sinclair School of Nursing’s new facility, expected to be completed on MU’s campus by spring 2022, will allow the school to increase class sizes and graduate more nurses.

Heyen: “Our overall goal is to make sure that Missourians have access to health care regardless of where they live, that they have the nurses available to care for them.”

Consiglio: For more on this research, visit

I’m Brian Consiglio, with a Spotlight on Mizzou.

Learn more about the research here

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