There’s no denying that the economic struggles in the U.S. have made it difficult for some professionals to find work, and that the U.S. unemployment rate remains high. Despite these trends, careers in the medical field continue to be highly regarded for their stability and long-term demand. Registered nurses are an excellent example of how nurse employment opportunities are defying national trends and are still providing well-trained, qualified staff with employment in hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities.
There are an estimated 2.6 million RN’s in the U.S. alone—and those numbers are expected to grow by almost half a million more over the next 7 years. Approximately 60% of nurses are employed in acute care settings, but those numbers are expected to shift as individual nurse employment decisions shift away from hospitals. Trends show that RN’s are now beginning to look for jobs with more regular hours and less stress. High patient loads, along with impractical charting demands, have many nurses turning to out-patient surgical centers, physician’s offices, and clinics that have fixed hours and weekends off. It remains to be seen whether this type of decision will force hospitals to rethink the nurse job description and demands on these front-line care providers.
Nurse employment is expected to expand in coming years thanks to an aging baby boomer population, which will lead to higher numbers of the general public in need of medical care—whether through home health agencies, long-term care facilities, or in the hospital.
RN’s with a bachelor’s degree or more will have the most employment opportunities, along with more opportunities for a higher pay rate, when compared to associate degree RN’s . Advanced practice RN’s, nurse-midwives, and nurse-anesthetists will also be in high demand, especially with medically underserved populations such as those who live in extremely rural areas or within inner city areas.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of becoming a nurse lies within the available choices and career paths afforded by the profession. Despite high national unemployment numbers, nursing jobs seem to be consistently steady, and opportunities abound to take a career that was founded at the bedside and reach populations that expand from the smallest rural community to the largest US metroplex and beyond.