In recent years nursing has been considered a safe career choice, with the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report predicting that “employment of registered nurses will jump 26 percent from 2010 to 2020″. But a closer look might make prospective nurses less optimistic about a rosy job scenario.
Thirty-six percent of nursing graduates in the class of 2011 had not secured positions as registered nurses (RNs) as of last fall, according to a survey conducted by the National Student Nurses’ Association in September. Respondents claimed that employers are seeking more experienced RNs, older nurses are slowing turnover by taking longer to retire, and new graduates are inundating the market.
Nurses graduating with bachelor’s degrees and diplomas fared slightly better in finding jobs.
Locally, recent layoffs at several hospitals have included nursing staff. Earlier this month about 80 layoffs affected physicians, nurses, managers and support staff at Mount Vernon Hospital and Sound Shore Medical Center. The reasons cited for the cuts were changes in the health care environment, particularly in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement policies, along with providing more than $30 million in uncompensated care to under- and uninsured in our service area.” Meanwhile, within the last year nearly 700 employees at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla have lost their jobs.
The growth in outpatient care has affected the need for nurses in hospitals, but suggests that different types of employment opportunities may expand.
… Outpatient care and other less traditional settings, on the other hand, have a need for nurses with innovation, creativity and command of their field.
It’s possible that nurses in these settings may find more difficult working conditions.
My advice to a young person considering nursing as a career:
- Don’t assume that optimistic job growth predictions will pan out as projected.
- Get a bachelor’s degree or a diploma*.
- Investigate the many types of jobs that nurses are doing, both in traditional and non-traditional settings.
* Diploma programs are the oldest and most traditional type of nursing education in the United States. These programs are two to three years in duration and provide nursing education primarily in the hospital setting. Graduates of these programs receive a diploma as opposed to a college degree. Most diploma programs are now affiliated with colleges or universities that grant college credit for certain courses.
Last year I spoke with a student of a diploma program associated with a highly regarded New Jersey hospital. She was extremely gratified that she had been offered a job by that hospital, which apparently does not automatically happen in every case.