The shortage is evidenced by open positions. Our hospital has more open positions than just new grad positions. We don't take new grads into all positions; however, for the new grad positions we posted, we had 400 applicants.
That's why I wrote in my earlier post that there *is* a nursing shortage, but the huge increase in new grads allows hospitals to be pickier about filling the shortage than just hiring someone who passed the NCLEX. The nursing shortage will not go away anytime soon--there are still estimates that nationwide the shortage will be about 800,000 to 1 million nurses by 2020.
The difference is that many, many people are aware of the shortage and are going to school in the hopes of filling the jobs. That's why there are so many applicants. As more nurses retire, the shortage will become more evident.
The shortage may not be as obvious in Minnesota as elsewhere, but the heavy use of travelers and per diem nurses in many facilities points to the fact that there is, in fact, a shortage.
So the question many will ask is: "If there are so many open positions, why don't you hire new grads into them, or post more new grad positions?"
Those are good questions. The answer to the second part is that you can only hire so many new grads at once because preceptors have to be paid and orientation costs a lot--you have to spread it out. Our new grad program takes 30-50 new grads about three times a year. Also, preceptors get burned out and can't precept non-stop--they need breaks too. Finally, precepting and orientation also have to be given to experienced nurses which we are hiring all the time as well.
The answer to the first part is changing. Some managers still require one to two years of med-surg experience before taking a nurse into their area. Other areas are not areas that new grads are ever interested in--no one leaves school saying, "I want to work on an IV team," for example. Nevertheless, there are openings in those areas. Many "specialty" areas (and I'm not going to get into the whole med-surg *is* a specialty argument right now) are now looking at taking new grads where they didn't before. OR, PACU, critical care, and L&D are some examples of areas that did not take new grads traditonally but may be now. However, even if they have started to take new grads, those are the areas that are most likely to take only very high GPAs or internship experience. Our critical care program for new grads, for instance, only takes graduates that had 250 or more hours of a critical care internship.
So while there is a nursing shortage, how it is being filled is more complicated than one might think.