Nurses of Different GenerationsIs there a nursing shortage?  Is it easy for newly-minted nurses to find a good job?  The common opinion has always been “yes”, but more articles are appearing in the press that indicates this may not quite be the case.

The recession of 2007-2009 eliminated the nation’s nursing shortage in many ways. Older nurses delayed leaving the profession as their retirement savings were decimated; part-time nurses became full-time and nurses who had left the workforce returned as spouses lost jobs and benefit packages.   Now that the recession is officially over, is that expected to last? Aren’t experts predicting another serious shortage due to the implementation of the ACA and an aging population?

Yes, experts are predicting a shortage.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that a registered nurse is the top occupation in terms of job growth through 2020, increasing 26% or 712,000 positions.

The “perfect storm”

So how is it that some nursing candidates cannot find jobs?  In many cases, it is a confluence of external forces that are unique to the nursing profession when the economy is weak (or considered weak).  

According to a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012, about 90% of nurses are women, 60% are married, and approximately 25% are over 50 years old.  Given the long days spent working on their feet, many take time off to raise their children and then retire in their late 50s.  Prior to the recession, approximately 73,000 nurses left the profession each year; this was needed to provide opportunities for newly graduated nurses.  However, as mentioned above, during the recession fewer chose to leave.  Many nurses remain unconvinced that the recession is over and are not leaving the profession.  Combine this with an exploding enrollment in nursing programs, and a “perfect storm” is created, with graduated RN’s finding it extremely hard to land a job.

There will be an eventual shortage

The key is the number of nurses that are planning to retire.  According to a Nursing Management Aging Workforce Survey 55% of the very large nursing workforce has expressed interest in retiring by 2020.

This “demographic bulge” of aging nurses guarantees that at some point in the near future there will be a large number of nurses leaving the workforce.  If that coincides with a predicted increase in demand (due to Affordable Care Act reforms and aging baby boomers) then there will be a dramatic shortage.

 Degrees and certifications are not “slam dunks”

This same phenomenon has occurred in other professions – namely teaching – during the same recession.  As people lost jobs, they flooded university programs as well as alternative teacher certification programs, thinking that teaching jobs would be easy to snag.  However, due to many of the same demographic forces at work in the nursing profession, current teachers put off retirement and continued to work, making is impossible for many newly minted educators to find positions.

Finding a job is never a slam-dunk.  It is hard work, and (many times) forces beyond your control can affect your ability to find your best-fit job.  Snelling Medical Professionals can offer you a solution.  We know where the local nursing positions are, and we can offer you an additional path to them.  Our recruiters and staffing managers work diligently every day to match the best candidates to their best jobs.  We can do the same for you – whether you are looking for a temporary assignment or a full-time employment opportunity.  So log register on our website today, or locate your local office, and let’s get started today.

By Christiane Soto