There are several underlying facts to this problem that clearly demonstrate that this problem will probably only worsen before it improves.
Last week, Cross Country Healthcare (NASDAQ:CCRN) gave investors a peek into the state of its medical staffing business. The company pointed out that the nursing population that is currently shouldering the burden is aging. The average age of a working registered nurse RN is nearing 50, while the average age for RNs entering the workforce is approximately 30. Then add to this, the sobering information that nearly 150,000 qualified applicants were turned away from registered nursing programs in 2006. This information was provided in an article written in the Florence, AL Times Daily.
So, there appears to be a shortage not only of nurses, but also a shortage of faculty and facilities necessary to train potential qualified nursing students. When you take all of this and combine it with an aging population, and a steady rise in hospital admissions, you get a pretty grim picture.
This tight labor pool of medical professionals to care and tend to our aging sick is unsettling to say the least. However, it also offers opportunity for medical staffing companies that are positioned to assist large urban hospitals attempting to staff their facilities with qualified providers.
Cross Country CEO, Joseph Boshart pointed out that RNs will be the largest growing medical position over the next ten years. He also explained that the pricing power has been steadily improving over the last five years, and that the industry is actually starting to strengthen due to overall market conditions.
Currently, there are three companies that could benefit from a nursing shortage. They are CCRN (17.76), AMN Healthcare Services (NYSE:AHS) (22.69), and Medical Staffing Network (MRN) (5.68). All three companies sport market caps well under a billion.
CCRN is probably the market leader, while the others, deserve a look simply because they are positioned in this industry. All three companies are well off of its highs, and may offer good investment opportunities if prices fall any lower.