Weakening economy propels finance workers toward nursing



Buckling under the heavy weight of college loans and lured by the promise of six figure salaries, droves of young professionals steered their careers in the direction of Wall Street.  But a lack of passion for the business world coupled with jobs threatened by the storm clouds of recession have many of these once finance workers switching to jobs in a secure market: nursing. 

Nursing witnessed a short-lived surge in enrollment following September 11, 2001, a phenomenon attributed to a wave of altruism that swept across the country in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.  In the last two years, however, nursing schools swell at the seams for more pragmatic reasons.  As businessmen and businesswomen watch their offices shrink and gas prices explode, eyes turn to a market where lifetime employment is all but guaranteed. 

CNNMoney.com recently caught wind of the rising number of finance workers answering the nation-wide call for nurses.  As Aaron Smith wrote in his March 26, 2008 article "Nursing: the recession-proof job market", finance workers are "abandon[ing] a job market on the verge of collapse for one that may be air-tight." People who have worked in the business world know that timing is everything.  It is difficult to dispute the numbers.  Since the beginning of 2007, 124,000 jobs have been lost in the finance sector, and another 22,000 people were victims of further job cuts between January and February 2008.  There is no indication that this downsizing trend will reverse in the near future. 

Nursing, in contrast, is an all but risk-free career move.  Prospective nursing students know that they will be offered attractive incentives after they graduate.  Hospitals, scrambling to meet the needs of rising patient numbers and aging baby boomers, compete with each other for qualified nurses.  In New York City, a newly graduated registered nurse can expect to earn a starting salary of $70,000.  He or she can also snatch up any number of carrots that hospitals dangle in front of new nurses; tuition reimbursement, sign-on bonuses, flexible schedules, and relocation services. 

Somewhat perversely, the current economic downturn may be good news for nursing.  Nursing, a profession overwhelmingly populated by women, now draws from traditionally male fields like finance and technology on dollars-and-cents grounds.  With more men ready to leave the finance world, nursing can meet staff shortages by opening its ranks to this new demographic. 

Justifying his decision to leave Fidelity, a financial firm, in favor of New York University's College of Nursing, one interviewee told Smith, "People are always going to be sick."  It's hard to argue against the fact that nursing simply makes good business sense. 


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


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