“Oh Crystal Ball of Nursing Knowledge, tell me what a future in nursing holds if I decide to stick it out in this school, endure clinicals, study for rigorous tests and basically put my rear end into hock with the government! Oh tell me truly, will I be rich—and famous!—if I stay in school and promise to be a good girl or boy?”
If only it were that easy. If only you could look into a crystal ball/see a tarot card reader/flip to the Nursing Job Forecast Station/read tea leaves and find out exactly what you have in store when you graduate from nursing school. No one knows for sure what the future holds in nursing. Sure, just about anyone will tell you that nursing is a stable job. I mean, where there is injury, hurt and disease, nurses will have a job. However, it isn’t always as cut and dried as that. Nursing is surprisingly recession-resistant, but it isn’t exactly recession-proof. Some new grads may find things a little more difficult than they anticipated.
Next: The Good News →
The Good News
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics can’t say enough good things about the job outlook for nurses. The field is expected to grow faster than average when compared with other professions, and 581,500 new jobs are projected to become available in the field. This is the most for any profession, so things are certainly looking up. With the general aging of America’s population, many older, experienced nurses are expected to retire, leaving hundreds of thousands of jobs open across the country. However, the amount of nurses needed in the hospital isn’t expected to increase, and this is where some of the bad news starts creeping in. The area most likely to need nurses is doctor’s offices, with a 48 percent projected growth rate. Home healthcare services are expected to grow by 33 percent, and nursing care facilities can expect a 25 percent growth in employment. Hospitals will only account for 17 percent of job growth.
Next: The Bad News →
The Bad News
Despite what everyone may think, the recession does hit the nursing profession. According to USA Today, more experienced nurses are putting off retirement and working longer hours because the economy is so bad. They may be the only income in their household, and this is keeping them in their jobs for longer than the projections could have foreseen. This is creating a great deal of new grads who are coming out of school with no jobs to go to. Of course, they will be needed in the future. Those older nurses can’t work forever, but for now, they are firmly entrenched in their jobs. According to Nursezone, the western and northeastern states tend to have the most trouble placing new grads into jobs. New nurses often seek out jobs in nursing homes or home health, or just decide to ride out the economy by continuing their education. The economy is recovering, though, and healthcare will be back to a booming business any day now.
Next: The Future →
Never fear, intrepid nurse graduate! The future of nursing looks bright indeed. Even though times are rough now, the long-term predictors for nursing are just about solid gold. Even U.S. News and World Report has named nursing as one of its top 50 careers. You haven’t gone wrong by getting into this field. You may just have to look a bit harder at this time to find the job of your dreams. A few things are for certain: The population is aging, medical technology is progressing at a rapid rate and there will always be medicine. You may have to stick it out in a nursing home for a while. Many jobs are available in these facilities. You may have to pursue a higher degree of education. More highly educated nurses are in even greater demand. On the whole, though, you will find a job if you look hard enough. Don’t chuck that crystal ball across the room just yet.
Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Outlook Handbook; 2011
Nursezone; Forecast for 2011: Outlook for Nursing Jobs Shows Promise; January 2011
USA Today; Job outlook brightens for new grads, but barely; June 2010
U.S. News and World Report; Best Careers: Registered Nurse; December 2010
For more Career Advice for Nurses pick up the latest issue of Scrubs magazine, available at a retail store near you!