No jobs?

Nurses Career Support


I'm reading through the posts and I'm finding something out that really has surprised me. I thought there was a national nursing shortage! While I know a lot of people are in nursing programs or about to enter one, I had no idea that there were so many new grads having issues finding a job.

Is it the economy? It seems NPs are having an easier time finding a job--is this due to MDs not specializing in family practice as often? Something else?

If all the extra certs aren't helping to land jobs, why aren't students heading to obtain their MSN (I'm sure some are)? I now geography plays a role. But, is this a nationwide issue? Are there some areas experiencing a shortage and others an influx of nurses?

So, what's going on?

And yes, I'm thinking about jumping in and starting a RN program as well. Just want to make sure I'm not jumping into a shallow pool :)

I think overall in the United States, there is probably a shortage of experienced nurses. There is a surplus of newly graduated nurses, simply because many universities and colleges recruited enthusiastically over the past several years. The economy has gone south, and with increased unemployment (in all job sectors), this has meant people have lost their health insurance and are putting off surgeries or trying not to go to the emergency room, etc. if possible. Also, hospitals have budget cuts and at this time many cannot afford to pay for the 12+ weeks of training it would take to bring a new RN up to speed. Many experienced nurses have postponed retirement or upgraded their schedule from part-time to full-time to compensate for an unemployed spouse. A poor economy with high unemployment and a flood of new nurses means very stiff competition for available jobs, even if one is happy to take a permanent night and weekend shift job on a high intensity unit.

NPs have an easier time finding employment because fewer nurses have Master's degrees and on average, well, there are just fewer NPs! In California, the salary of a family medicine NP is far less than that of an RN who works in a hospital. On average a family NP with 3 -4 years of experience might earn $40 - $45/hour as compared to an RN who earns $55/hour. The per diem rates (if you get a job in the nursing pool at a hospital) can be $70 - $80/hour. The hourly pay in other states for RNs is not as high but I think the rates for NPs in major east coast cities is probably comparable to what it is in California. As for why not everyone chooses to earn their MSN, well, for some it probably has to do with the cost. Also once you've learned many of the hands-on skills required in bedside nursing, it's best to put it into practice so you don't forget. The job description of a family NP is different from that of an RN on a med-surg unit.

Globally, nursing is still generally high in demand. There are other places to work as an RN besides the United States. Moreover nursing affords quite a few options. Working in a hospital is only one of many: you can choose home care, school nursing, case management, education, wound care (might require MSN), teaching, legal consulting, informatics, public health, or occupational health. There exists the opinion that hospital nursing is maybe more desirable than home care, but home care requires that you are extremely competent, independent, and possess the ability to think critically without relying on any backup. In the hospital setting, if in doubt, there exists a charge nurse and assorted colleagues so resources are more accessible than if you were in someone's home performing a dressing change and had a question.

If you are just starting your education now, it's highly likely that by the time you've graduated, things will have turned around in terms of job availability.

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