Good Night, Nurse


My friends and I are planning to be nurses. I read it's one of the most popular career choices. Does it have a secure job future?

You're all graduating together, but the real question is whether you all find employment as nurses. A career in nursing has historically been a promising choice, with good salaries and job security. But in 2008, the recession hit the healthcare sector particularly hard, with jobs in nursing becoming less available. However, the situation is improving, as the long-term prospects for the nursing career are looking brighter.

Almost a decade ago, the nation was in a time of economic uncertainty and getting a job as a registered nurse was not easy. Fast forward nine years and there has been a turnaround in the healthcare sector with more and more nursing jobs becoming available. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the employment of registered nurses will jump 26% from 2010 to 2020.

A greater focus on preventative care and technological advances have seen a resurgence in the healthcare industry. Hospitals need new graduate nurses and are motivated to spend money in training them, because retaining nurses in the long-term is more viable than having a high turnover or hiring contract nurses. Some hospitals may require a two-year contract on hire to keep you from jumping ship.


The baby boomer generation is aging and Americans are living longer, requiring more medical coverage. This creates demand for nurses and concomitant nursing turnover. As generations age into Medicare, there will be new demand from those receiving coverage. Reports indicate that two to three million patients age into Medicare each year. This influx of patients has caused a rise in Health Resources and Services Administration projects which could demand an additional 584,000 registered nurses by 2025, according to staffing industry analysts. The number of Americans overall with health insurance was increased by The Affordable Care Act, and further demand on medical care will fuel a demand in nursing jobs.

The Hospital Corporations of America (HCA), which operates 168 hospitals and 114 surgical centers, stated that they have hundreds of nurses in the pipeline that are related to graduate nursing programs. According to HCA representatives these numbers are increasing year-on-year which is good news for nursing students.

A 2014 John Hopkins University survey claimed that 78% of respondents to a School of Nursing survey said they had received and accepted offers of nursing jobs within three months of starting their search. Many had secured employment before graduation, but not all nursing specialties have the same success rate. Those entering the dental field continue to lead in salaries. According to Keating Dental Arts, there is a dual shift as younger dentists are more likely to hire nursing staff and the public has become more aware of the need for preventative care for young people.

Experienced nurses changing roles and older nurses retiring has created a turnover with a high demand for new nurses fresh out of college. Some are postponing retirement but eventually this trend will end and demand will increase. Current trends for nursing indicate advancing requirements for college courses, so a newly graduated nurse with a bachelor’s degree is more likely to find a job than one with an associate’s degree. 

Surveys of over 500 schools of nursing indicate almost 44% of hospitals and other healthcare organizations require new hires to have a bachelor’s in nursing and almost 80% are showing preference for those with bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degrees. While no job is guaranteed, with the right degree you can go far in nursing.

Some people think that doctors and nurses can put scrambled eggs back in the shell - Cass Canfield.

(Martin J. Young is a former correspondent of Asia Times).

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