Despite a widely held belief that nursing is a “recession-proof” profession, new graduates in some areas of the country report difficulties finding a job. Surveys by the National Student Nurses Association of 2009 and 2010 new graduates show that more than 40% of nurses that responded had not found a job by midsummer. The American Hospital Association reports a nursing vacancy rate of 4% which is down from 11.4% in 2006. “Associate degree nurses are having the hardest time finding entry-level positions,” says Diane J. Mancino, RN, EdD, CAE, executive director of the National Student Nursing Association. “Vacancies, when they do exist, are often filled first with BSN grads.”
Analysts say that the economy is the reason for the hiring slowdown with older RNs deciding to stay in the workforce. Ninety percent of hospitals surveyed by the AHA in March reported they had not added back the staff hours or positions that were cut during the deepest part of the recession in 2008 and ninety eight percent said that they had not restored services or programs that were cut during that time. However, nursing leaders and educators say the situation is not as dire as it may seem. The jobs will come back. Older nurses will retire and more people are expected to get health insurance because of healthcare reform.
Although the job market is weak right now, the health care industry holds a lot of hope for college graduates, for years to come. Thousands more health care workers will be needed in the coming decade to treat the increasing number of older Americans, particularly the enormous baby boom generation. In Florida alone, U.S. Census data shows that the population of persons 65 and older is projected to increase by 82 percent through 2020 to reach the number of 5.1 million.
In addition to the changing population, the field of medical technology in diagnosing and treating diseases is rapidly evolving. As the range of occupations in the health care industry grows and new specialties are created, the sheer number of health care workers is bound to grow as well.
The chart below shows the number of employees in 2008 and the percentages are the projected change from 2008 to 2018:
- Health care, total: 14,336,000; 22.5%
- Hospitals, public and private: 5,667,200; 10.1%
- Nursing and residential care facilities: 3,008,000; 21.2%
- Offices of physicians: 2,265,700; 34.1%
- Home health care services: 958,000; 46.1%
- Offices of dentists: 818,800; 28.5%
- Offices of other health practitioners: 628,800; 41.3%
- Outpatient care centers: 532,500; 38.6%
- Other ambulatory health care services: 238,500; 6.8%
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories: 218,500; 39.8%
Source: BLS National Employment Matrix