Hawaii has low unemployment so why are RN jobs tough to get?

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    I live in Florida where the average unemployment rate is around 12%. When we moved from Indiana in 2009 I had exactly one year of experience as an RN and only an ASN degree. I was offered five of eight jobs that I applied for. Also, when my significant other insisted that we quit the hospital we were working at after only being there for three months (for personal job related reasons) it took us about two weeks to find new jobs. My point is that many people talk about how very, very difficult it is to find employment in Hawaii where the average unemployment rate is about HALF of Florida. I care because I hope to one day move to Oahu, but from reading here I feel like I will need about ten years nursing experience along with at least three years in the ICU and or ER along with tons of certifications just to have a chance. Thanks
  2. 19 Comments so far...

  3. 2
    Dear Myo,

    Carefully re-read your post for your answer.

    Still don't get it? Hawaii does not have a nursing shortage because 1) the local people who become nurses want to remain here, and 2) every other mainlander and foreigner wants to move here, either to fulfill their dream of living in "paradise" or to work in the US.

    Who wants to live in Indiana or Florida? Seriously.
    dreamct and thekid like this.
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    I understand the point that you are making and have been researching this subject for at least ten years. Indeed, one of the primary motivations for us quitting our home businesses and going back to nursing school was the possibility of one day moving to Oahu (where we reasoned we would have the best chance of obtaining employment, and because I hope to one day die surfing on the North Shore or being eaten by a shark if I cannot accomplish that here in Florida first). However, in allmost every case the nurses have an EASIER time obtaining jobs than most other employment sectors and Hawaii has virtually the LOWEST overall unemployment (statisitically). So why aren't the factors that you listed (everyone wanting to move there both from the mainland and overseas) reflected in the unemployment rates (statisitically?). Take Florida for example we have the most tourists in the entire United States and many people want to move here from everywhere (take myself for example only two years ago) AND as you might expect (despite the many low paying service industry jobs) our unemployment rate is still over 12% . Yours on the other hand is only 6%. Just trying to place the statistical situaition in context with what is the reality on the ground.
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    We probably have the highest employment of foreign Nurses/Nurses that immigrated from the Philippines. Hawaii had one of the largest immigration of Filipinos during the plantations day (cultural things you probably weren't aware of).
    Nurses in the Philippines are highly skilled/seasoned and trained in an American format and can speak English + their dialect. The % of asian-americans in Hawaii is far greater then most states in the US.

    I don't know if this makes sense to you or not.

    The unemployment rate here may be lower, but does it specify the unemployment rates of Nurses here?
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    Know it does not specify the unemployment rate for nurses, I'm just talking about the "generic" overall unemployment rate. However, in allmost everycase RN's have an easier time (at least in every case with the possible exception of Hawaii) finding work than most jobs/professions. As for the Phillipino thing I would wager that between 30 and 50% of my co-worker RN's here in central Florida are from the Phillipines (at least at my hospital). When I moved from Indiana, my expectation was that I would be surrounded by Hispanics, and yet probably less than 5% (but perhaps 50% of my patients) of my RN co-workers are Hispanic.

    In any case what would you say is the "skill set" that I need to develop in order to be reasonably certain of finding night shift work as an RN on Oahu? Right now I have three years primarily in PCU (I started in ICU, but they gave me the boot into PCU after only three months right out of school) and am going back into ICU with the goal of obtaining the experience to either go to CRNA school or perhaps family practice NP. If we end up going to Oahu, I wonder if I should add a couple of years of ER into that mix (assuming of course I'm even able to achieve success this time around in ICU). My significant other has six years primarily in ICU (her first six months were Med-Tele and she also had a brief unsuccessful foray into CVICU before finding her niche in Med/Surgical ICU).
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    Hawaii has a large asian/pacific islander population more so then probably any other so it is completely relevant because language barriers communication/ breakdowns are always an issue. You can already tell that, culturally, it is different here then in Florida.

    Night shifts are probably easier markets to get into then a day time shift. On paper, more experience the better right? There is a bit of an issue though because employer at the big hospitals (HMC/Kaiser/Queens etc.) are hiring from the inside. RNs working as wardclerks/cna/are volunteers or have friends/family members that can get them in.

    Having an ASN might hurt you trying to get a hospital job, I volunteer at Kaiser (still a student) and they have are pushing their diploma/ADN nurses to get their BSN (i'm sure you've heard of the mandate). They've hired one BSN nurse since i've been volunteering here (onco/medsurge) who was working as a CNA.

    Queens Hospital is no different, being a "MAGNET" hospital makes it damn near impossible to land a job there unless you are well seasoned and have the inside dish.

    I do wish you luck finding a job if you do decide to move down here!
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    Well, I'm working on my BSN now and will certainly have it before moving (as well as my CCRN hopefully as well). The whole "hiring from the inside" is allmost a foreign concept to me. If anything the hospitals that I've worked for so far (two in Indiana, one of which was a level one trauma, and the other a large 600 bed facility) and the two in Florida have showed a bias towards hiring outsiders. Take for example my significant other, she was hired by Florida Hospital as a PICC/Pool/HouseSupervisor nurse straight from Indiana when she really didn't even want the job (she had applied simply for ICU) and when they had several inside applicants who had already applied (with many years experience at the facility). By the same token at the same hospital they hired several nurses for ICU from the "outside" in several cases RN's who were new grads, when they had PCU nurses who had applied who had worked there for in one case over five years. I think that the real issue (both here and in Indiana) is not so much that they favor outsiders as that they hate to lose people who have proven themselves in a "particular niche" especially when that niche is PCU (which at the two hospitals I'm talking about meant six patients on nights and was essentially a miserable job certainly compaired to ICU).

    However, I'm still having trouble understanding how nurses (RN's in particular) could have a tougher on average time finding work than members of other professions where far fewer credentials are required to become employed. Six percent unemployement (what Hawaii has) is allmost in fact "zero" when you consider that many economists consider there to be a structural unemployement rate from four to six percent built into the economy. Also, for whatever reason, I find that the Phillipean nureses that I work with (again they probably make up 50% of my RN co-workers) treat me like some sort of king. I honestly don't get why they are so nice to me, but they are. On average I find that I would prefer working with them relative to most of the Caucasian nurses that I've worked with in the past.
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    I'm only a very soon to be nursing student with no connections to a hospital, hospital administration, or nursing organization, so I can't offer an insiders perspective of Hawaii's nursing situation; however, I do think the question you initially posed is quite interesting. Could the answer simply be one of supply and demand--that there are a greater number of nurses here than there are nursing jobs? Perhaps mainland nurses are attracted to Hawaii because of the wages and a romanticized version of what life is like in Hawaii, nurses from the Philippines come here to be with their families and to make a better life for themselves, and local nurses don't want to leave because of family ties and lifestyle. In addition, if nurses in Hawaii are like nurses in other states, they are working into their planned retirement years to make up for 401k losses, to support adult kids who can't find jobs or their grandchildren, to pay for their mortgage, and to survive in this crappy economy in general. To top it off, the nursing schools continue to pump out new nurses several times a year--many whom, from what I understand, cannot find jobs here. New grad nurse hiring here is dismal compared to the other 49 states...perhaps the lowest in the nation (if the statistics I have seen are an accurate representation of reality). The result of such a combination is a saturated and highly competitive nursing job market.

    Regarding your comparison of employment rates in Hawaii and Florida, I would have to say that even though 6-7% unemployment seems like basically 0% unemployment to you, it is considerably worse than it was five years ago when the economy was better. At that time, unemployment was hovering between 2-3%. I remember the want ads were pretty thick at that time, and it was an employees market. However, now, the want ads have less pages than the Sunday comics in the same paper, and that ain't saying much. God help us if we ever get to 12%.

    It sounds like your real question is whether or not your qualifications and experience will allow you to move here. To me, you and your wife both sound experienced. You'll never know unless you ask people who do the hiring. Maybe you could call some of the hospitals and staffing agencies to find out what it will take to get a job here. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people should enable you to live your dreams. The surf is great here, by the way, but line-ups have gotten extremely crowded since I stopped hitting the water nearly ten years ago. Be prepared for a circus if you ever do make it down here. And last but not least, good luck!
    NeekoDango likes this.
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    I agree with the supply and demand comment. Oahu is an island -Florida a HUGE state. You need to put the statistics in perspective.
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    It's very simple. The economy turned to crap and our older nurses put off retirement or went back to full-time work. All the new-grad jobs immediately disappeared. Hawaii's nursing force is definitely on the older side. However, until our nurses feel confident enough in their finances to consider retirement, the job market will continue to be very very tight.

    Hawaii is very much, an island. The various career and employment/moving opportunities available on the mainland do NOT apply here. The decision to cross state lines to pursue more viable job markets is simply not as feasible as on the mainland.

    As our numerous RN schools continue to pump out 300+ per year, our RN job market continues to offer very few opportunities to inexperienced new-grads and unconnected mainlanders. It is the harsh reality of the status quo: if you hope to work here, you will likely have to spend some time working as a CNA/ward clerk in a facility to demonstrate your commitment and work ethic.
    thekid and MaheaRN like this.


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