Is Nursing Recession Proof?



Some say the economy is in recession, others say not. Either way, the daily news across the United States is fraught with talk of layoffs, foreclosures, banking scandals, and housing woes. The unemployment rate is at a two-year high. The nursing shortage has been in place for many years and shows no signs of abating anytime soon. Now with baby boomers retiring, healthcare could be in crisis again (still) with regard to qualified registered nurses available to care for patients. There are approximately 2.6 million nurses in the nation whose average age is 45.2 years. In fact, only 10 percent of the nursing workforce is under 30 years of age. The Department of Labor estimates the number of vacancies for registered nurses will expand to 800,000 in 2020, from its 2005 tally of 125,000.  The demand for RNs is expected to grow by 2% to 3% each year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs in nursing will increase between 14 percent and 23 percent through 2016.

Healthcare is not immune to an economy close to recession. There is cost-cutting and lay-offs in acute care hospitals as well as bad debts, and cutbacks in Medicare and private insurance reimbursements. But, the need to treat people who become sick or need health care services is not usually dependant upon the economy. It may be a physician who admits the patient to the hospital, and treats the illness, but it's the nurses who care for that patient and help return his health. In addition, there aren't too many careers available where there are so many opportunities to explore in addition to traditional bedside nursing. Even after completing a two-year Associate in Science Degree, passing the boards, and obtaining a license, registered nurses have a wealth of possibilities to explore.  Experts say that though an associate degree is usually enough to start a career in healthcare, a bachelor or master's degree is better for job security, and for a wider range of choices.

Registered nurses are in demand everywhere and don't necessarily have to care for patients in a clinical setting for the work to be meaningful. Nurses work not only in acute care hospitals, nursing homes, and home health, but in hospice, research, forensics, medical device sales, health care software, pharmaceutical companies, and education. They occupy positions in quality and utilization review, infection control, risk management, and in the regulatory arena. Nurses can also be mobile. For those who able, travel nursing gives nurses the opportunity to see different parts of the country, as well as overseas, and not have to deal with the day-to-day politics of a full-time position. The salary and benefits are excellent, and all accommodations and travel expenses are paid for.

For those nurses interested in teaching, there is also a nurse educator shortage. Though people are turning to nursing as a career choice, whether first or second, nursing schools are turning away students in record numbers because there is not enough faculty and programs may have to be reduced. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), though enrollment rose 5 percent at nursing bachelor's degree programs in the United States, more than 40,000 qualified nursing student applicants were not accepted. The number of faculty has not declined, but the demand has risen higher. Albeit as baby boomers retire, the faculty need will increase.

Becoming a registered nurse, at least for the next ten to twenty years, means that the demand for the job will be high.


Copyright 2008- American Society of Registered Nurses (ASRN.ORG)-All Rights Reserved


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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