Secret challenges nurses face
After at least sixteen years of schooling, students are more than ready to finally begin the careers they have been working toward their entire life thus far. Yet one final challenge stands in their way until they make it into the real world of adulthood: finding a job. This final task seems easy enough with years of education under your belt and hours of schooling focused solely on your decided career, but still it remains a daunting task to so many. Why? The recession that the United States has been trudging in and out of is still very tangible to many, including recent graduates battling the job market. Almost all fields of study have seen the effects this recession has had on the job market, with fewer jobs and greater competition between applicants. The nursing field, however, is a different.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures the job outlook in various fields with a projected rate of change in employment during a ten year period, 2010 to 2020. This rate for the nursing field is recorded at 26%- nearly double the average 14% (Bureau of Labor Statistics). These statistics can be deceiving to graduates looking for careers where work is available. Students are then called upon to fill this void in the healthcare field. These past few years the enrollment in colleges of nursing dramatically increased to 169,000 from the 78,000 a decade earlier (Kurtz). These registered nurses are much needed and eager students looking for any possible jobs flock to the healthcare field. The openly circulated statistics show that the nursing workforce is lacking and that there are ample positions. A picture is painted for these graduates that jobs will be thrown at them after graduation day, but that is not even remotely close to the reality. These students are fighting and clawing for positions. How could this be possible if the only competition is their selves?
This is where so many have been misled. Not only are the newly educated RNs competing with each other, but previously retired RNs are in the running as well. Annah Karam, a head recruiter for six hospitals in Los Angeles, shows another challenge recent graduate face, retired RN’s returning to the field. She is reported as saying roughly 1,000 applications are thrown in for every post they open. These positions are almost always filled with the RNs with the most experience, making it exceedingly hard on recent graduates (Kurtz). Given the choice between RNs with ample experience and newer ones who need to be trained, offices almost always hire on the experienced. This isn’t shown in the labor statistics. All that is advertised is that jobs are open and jobs are being filled, but this surprising information can be seen with further research. The average age of RNs has been estimated at 44.5 years of age, and nurses in their 50s are projected to become the largest percentage in the nursing field; thats over a quarter of the Registered Nurse population (American Association of Colleges of Nursing). Of these 50 year old RNs, a very small portion is recently graduated. Why are so many retirees returning to the field? The nursing workforce seems to follow a different economic trend than other jobs. It has never really conformed to the traditional dips and peaks of normal economic movement. As explained in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, nursing jobs follow a different pattern than typical careers. It seems when the recession worsens more nursing jobs are filled and when it lightens up more positions need filling. This can be explained by the fact that 90% of nursing graduates are women and of those female RN’s, 7 out of 10 are married (Auerbach). So when the economy gets better these women are more likely to have extra time for their families, marriage, and raising children. The field then experiences a shortage, however, not to worry. When the economy falls again these positions are quick to fill back, seeing as their families need the extra income. Those previously inactive, 50 year old RNs come back in the field for that much needed extra income and in return, their experience gives them the upper hand.
Hospitals and doctors’ offices seeking nurses all have one requirement in common that holds back these recent grads; experience. And yet how are these new RNs supposed to have experience if no hospitals give them the chance to create that experience? Despite the struggle these graduates will face in these next few years, their future is far from all dark clouds ahead and their battle with experienced RNs won’t last forever. As the baby boomers entire retirement, there is an expected mass shortage to reemerge in the healthcare field. The older RN’s will retire once and for all, leaving roughly 900,000 nursing positions to fill (Kurt). Even still, the emergence of all 900,000 job positions will not happen over the course of a few months. These dips and peaks in the labor cycle can take years at a time to change, and those students looking to graduate in the next few years have many challenges lying ahead.
Thousands of recent graduates of nursing colleges enter the job market with high expectations, eager to nab these jobs that are needed so desperately, and yet, the majority find themselves let down and out of work. The job market for RNs follows a much different beat and those in the field follow a different work cycle, with most leaving their jobs in their early thirties. A combination of these two factors causes a falsified hope for up and coming graduates, leaving them to believe jobs will find them. This is far from the case, and to the surprise of many, these grads will not only be competing with themselves, but also those with years of experience returning to the field. With a future so glum, how are students expected to be eager to begin their new lives into adulthood? There are numerous challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead for new grads, and yet, all that can be done is to finish their education and try to gain as much experience along the way.
American Association of Colleges of Nurses. "Your Nursing Career: A Look at the Facts."
American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 3 May 2010. Web. 12 Nov 2013. .
Auerbach, David I., Ph.D., Peter I. Buerhaus, Ph.D., and Douglas O. Staiger, Ph.D. "Registered
Nurse Labor Supply and the Recession — Are We in a Bubble?" New England Journal of Medicine (2012): N. p. Registered Nurse Labor Supply and the Recession. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. United States. Department of Labor. Registered Nurses. 2012. Web. 11
Nov. 2013. .
Kurtz, Annalyn. "For Nursing Jobs, New Grads Need Not Apply." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. .
Cited: American Association of Colleges of Nurses. "Your Nursing Career: A Look at the Facts." American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 3 May 2010. Web. 12 Nov 2013. . Auerbach, David I., Ph.D., Peter I. Buerhaus, Ph.D., and Douglas O. Staiger, Ph.D. "Registered Nurse Labor Supply and the Recession — Are We in a Bubble?" New England Journal of Medicine (2012): N. p. Registered Nurse Labor Supply and the Recession. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Bureau of Labor Statistics. United States. Department of Labor. Registered Nurses. 2012. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. . Kurtz, Annalyn. "For Nursing Jobs, New Grads Need Not Apply." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. .