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Policy Polit Nurs Pract. 2007 Aug;8(3):158-69. doi: 10.1177/1527154407309050.

Examining the impending gap in clinical nursing expertise.

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  • 1Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


Much has been written about current and future nursing shortages and the numerical gap between nurses available and projected nursing needs. Very little analysis has focused on the implications of the pending expertise gap within the nursing workforce. A graying and retiring registered nurse workforce will greatly increase the proportion of novice nurses with minimal experience in bedside practice. The expertise gap will also affect nursing education. This article explores the implications of these phenomena. Without careful planning, efforts to address the numerical shortage may inadvertently worsen the expertise gap, contributing to unsafe care and affecting nursing retention.

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