Nursing: Not A Recession-Proof Career

by TheCommuter Asst. Admin

The media, some institutions of higher learning, and many members of the public heartily believe that the nursing profession is immune to economic downturns. Contrary to popular beliefs, nursing is quite vulnerable when economic times change for the worse. The intended purpose of this article is to dispel the popular myth that nursing is recession-proof.

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    Nursing: Not A Recession-Proof Career

    Contrary to widely held beliefs, nursing is certainly NOT the recession-proof career that many entities have seemingly made it out to be.

    During the recession of the early 1990s, some nurses in certain regions of the United States had remained unemployed for six months or longer as they attempted to secure employment. Newly graduated nurses were hit the hardest, but many local employment markets were brutal toward the more experienced nurses, too. The severe nursing glut of the early 1990s had persisted well into the middle 1990s before easing sometime during the late 1990s.

    During the Great Recession of the late 2000s, patients avoided having elective surgeries in droves because they were fearful of taking the time away from work that was needed for full recovery, which resulted in low census on certain units in acute care hospitals. When census is low at hospitals, less nurses are needed to keep these floors operational.

    More people than usual become unemployed during sluggish economic times and, as a result, lose their health insurance benefits. Since healthcare is prohibitively expensive, uninsured people are definitely not inclined to seek it unless their health problems have progressed into unavoidable emergencies. In addition, the medical bills of uninsured patients tend to go unpaid, which means less cash flow for healthcare facilities. Numerous hospitals are providing plenty of charity care in this day and age.

    Although it is an accurate statement that nursing jobs can never be outsourced, always remember that nurses can be "insourced" by recruiting foreign nurses to work at the most desperate hospitals in the U.S. In fact, a hospital in the desolate border town of Pecos, Texas, is currently willing to sponsor nurses from abroad. These nurses are less likely to whine about working evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays because they are earning more money in the U.S. than they ever would in their country of origin.

    Masses of part-time nurses accept full-time positions during economic recessions to keep their households afloat when a breadwinner spouse loses his or her job without notice. Plenty of retired nurses have been reactivating their nursing licenses and since 2008, and are returning to the nursing workforce due to the escalating costs of food and fuel combined with the effects of retirement funds that have dwindled in value.

    Another noteworthy issue is the aggressive expansion of nursing program slots over the past few years. Moreover, multiple new schools of nursing have opened their doors to willing applicants in recent years, especially at the private for-profit trade schools. These two factors have resulted in a recent increase in newly graduated nurses in local job markets. A significant number of these new nurses have grappled with unemployment and underemployment for more than one year because their local job markets cannot absorb them all.

    The aforementioned ideas are just some food for thought. While these occurrences might not apply to your specific region or the part of the world where you live, these things are surely happening in many cities and towns across the United States.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 16, '12
    Guttercat, pat8585, mystory, and 9 others like this.
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  4. About TheCommuter

    TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied workplace experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for for years prior to earning RN licensure.

    TheCommuter joined Feb '05 - from 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'. Age: 33 TheCommuter has '8' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. Posts: 25,310 Likes: 34,311; Learn more about TheCommuter by visiting their allnursesPage Website


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    32 Comments so far...

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    No career (no legal career anyway) is recession proof. Unless your career is being Mitt Romney's wife, which as we've seen in the news is a very difficult and challenging job requiring at least a couple Cadillacs.

    "Insourcing" of RNs appears to be a myth. (We can dig up the old threads again if you want.) The reason desolate border towns are willing to sponsor nurses from abroad is because they are desolate border towns.

    As the economy slowly recovers, the outlook for all jobs will improve. The economy cycles.
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    Quote from MN-Nurse
    "Insourcing" of RNs appears to be a myth. (We can dig up the old threads again if you want.) The reason desolate border towns are willing to sponsor nurses from abroad is because they are desolate border towns.
    Retrogression has been in effect since 2006 for foreign nurses attempting to live and work in the U.S., so the "insourcing" of RNs from abroad has come to a screeching halt. However, prior to 2006, many U.S. hospitals were heavily recruiting and sponsoring foreign nurses.

    A handful of the absolutely most desperate facilities are still willing to provide sponsorship for nurses from abroad. These hospitals tend to be located in places where most American-born people generally would not want to live.
    Zookeeper3, lindarn, netglow, and 1 other like this.
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    I have seen "in-sourcing" used extensively at my hospital in the SF Bay area. I work NOC shift, med-surg and many nights I'm the only native born English speaking nurse on the unit. I can go all night hearing Tagalog, Hindi, Urdu, Mandarin, and various African dialects being spoken, without a word of English.

    And these nurses are HARD working nurses. They will work through breaks, off the clock (after end of shift), and put up with treatment by management and other staff which would have your average American nurse shouting HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT, and calling for a lawyer. They are grateful for their jobs, and are 100% loyal to the hospital management which sponsored them into those jobs.

    Welcome to the new Global (AT WILL) workplace, where you can be replaced by a cheaper, more flexible (aka subservient), nurse without any notice.

    Would you like fries with that?
    Last edit by Dana1969 on Jun 13, '12 : Reason: brevity
    Fiona59, monkeybug, nursegirl2001, and 17 others like this.
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    Quote from Dana1969
    I have seen "in-sourcing" used extensively at my hospital in the SF Bay area. I work NOC shift, med-surg and many nights I'm the only native born English speaking nurse on the unit. I can go all night hearing Tagalog, Hindi, Urdu, Mandarin, and various African dialects being spoken, without a word of English.
    You're in California? I was born and raised there, and I can certainly attest to the fact that California has a staggeringly high number of nurses from foreign countries.
    lindarn and netglow like this.
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    Quote from Dana1969
    I have seen "in-sourcing" used extensively at my hospital in the SF Bay area. I work NOC shift, med-surg and many nights I'm the only native born English speaking nurse on the unit. I can go all night hearing Tagalog, Hindi, Urdu, Mandarin, and various African dialects being spoken, without a word of English.

    And these nurses are HARD working nurses. They will work through breaks, off the clock (after end of shift), and put up with treatment by management and other staff which would have your average American nurse shouting HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT, and calling for a lawyer. They are grateful for their jobs, and are 100% loyal to the hospital management which sponsored them into those jobs.

    Welcome to the new Global (AT WILL) workplace, where you can be replaced by a cheaper, more flexible (aka subservient), nurse without any notice.

    Would you like fries with that?

    There are a large amount in the Chicago area as well. I'd say especially in affluent communities - I've been told it has to do with that "servitude" aspect, as well as the ability to slave people "who know no different" easily.
    Fiona59, kcmylorn, and lindarn like this.
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    I'm assuming the "work for 40 years at one job and retire at 65" era is now history. I don't know anyone around me who is planning to retire any earlier than 70. I personally plan to work until at least my mid-70's, God willing. There's no way I can retire anytime before then and live comfortably. Not that I plan to do floor nursing until then, but I will look into nursing opportunities that will simultaneously complement my life comfortably.
    Not_A_Hat_Person and lindarn like this.
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    enlightening article, & sad to say very true.
    lindarn likes this.
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    Quote from TheCommuter
    You're in California? I was born and raised there, and I can certainly attest to the fact that California has a staggeringly high number of nurses from foreign countries.
    I don't doubt it. I don't consider RNs who were trained in the United States as "insourced."
    TheCommuter likes this.
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    The article doesn't consider countervailing trends, such as unemployed people tend to get medical care more (at least at first, while insurance is around) because they have more time on their hands. Plus, the aging of the population sets up a demand for services independent of the economic cycle. Still, a good eye-opening article.
    lindarn likes this.


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