Current projections show Hawaii could be short 1,230 doctors and 2,669 registered nurses to care for an estimated 280,496 baby boomers who will be 65 or older by 2020.
The insufficient numbers of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals — due to lower pay scales, higher cost of living and fewer choices for quality education, professional development and employment opportunities – have grave repercussions given the wave of Hawaii residents expected to retire in the next 10 to 20 years. The elderly will account for nearly 20 percent of the state’s total population in the next decade.
Meanwhile, about 43 percent of the 11,000 nurses working in Hawaii intend to retire in the next 15 years, according to a 2009 survey by the Hawaii State Center for Nursing.
The work force is aging and the number of graduates is not going to meet the demand.
Physician and nursing groups are stepping up efforts to mitigate the shortages, including increasing the health care workforce through programs designed to attract students as young as middle school into medical training, and providing mentors, research experiences and other support.