Nursing: Not A Recession-Proof Career

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. Nurses General Nursing Article

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 a low census on certain units in acute care hospitals. When the census is low at hospitals, fewer 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.

Another thing to consider is that although there are weak spots for hiring and warmer spots, these will become more homogenized as nurses migrate to where the jobs are. I've seen this in Texas with this recession and I've seen similar migration in other fields, as well as in past recessions.

Specializes in Geriatrics/family medicine.

Nursing is not recession proof. You have to be more flexible and be able to work wherever you can get a job. Getting your dream nowdays seems difficult if not possible. Now I am just happy to be working even though adminstration and my manager don't seem to understand we are superhumans. There was a time period where they threatened to suspend anyone who had a fall during their shift.:banghead: I got injured last week the blame was put on me not the mismanagement of the new patient transfered to my unit, whose care had not been managed properly.

no job is really "recession proof" or anything proof for that matter, BUT jobs in the medical field are usually the most secure during an economic downturn. i watched a show the other day with a couple who lost their business detailing vehicles...and another couple lost their jobs selling vacations. obviously, going on vacation and having your car detailed are luxuries. when the economy tanks...people cut those things out.

getting sick or injured isn't a choice or something you can "cut out." people with cancer can't get rid of it without treatment, and elderly people in ltc can't regain the ability to care for themselves. medical care is always going to be necessary regardless of the economy. sure, changes are made and budgets cut....but that's why it's "more secure" than other jobs. people take the term "recession proof" way too literally.

Thank Goodness ... finally.. an article stating the current situation of nursing lay offs. I've been laid off since early February from homehealth agency. Last month I was hired PRN at a wound center. The unemployment office first remark was " Oh you're a nurse, you'll have no problems" It's a falsehood to promote nursing as recession proof.

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.
Thank Goodness ... finally.. an article stating the current situation of nursing lay offs. I've been laid off since early February from homehealth agency. Last month I was hired PRN at a wound center. The unemployment office first remark was " Oh you're a nurse, you'll have no problems" It's a falsehood to promote nursing as recession proof.

Unfortunately, the media has drilled the idea into the heads of the collective public that the nursing profession is recession-proof.

I was visiting my parents, who live in California, a few months ago. My mother was saying, "California needs nurses!" My father said, "Nursing in in demand here!" And they both were asking if I would relocate back to California.

I cannot move back to my home state without a job lined up there. However, CA is one of the most difficult states for a nurse to secure employment. I have even applied multiple times in the less desirable cities. I have six years of nursing experience, but it is not the right mix of experience for most recruiters and managers there.

According to recent statistics, 43 percent of all new nurses in California have not been able to secure employment: Central Valley Business Times

Here in CA, Kaiser is in a hiring freeze, Sutter is striking, Muir is laying off, St Rose (in Hayward) is just swirling around the bowl before the final flush, the local VA is in complete retreat...cities in CA are declaring bankruptcy (three in the last few weeks)'s like stories my grandparents used to tell about the Great Depression.

Or maybe it's like that scene in Ghostbusters where Bill Murray declares..." Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria..."

Let's put this ghost to rest shall we

There is no nursing shortage in California! And there hasn't been for a long, long time.

There are lots of sick people in CA, and lots of unemployed people in CA, and LOTS of unemployed sick people in CA, who come to the hospital and are unable to pay anything for the care they receive. They come from all over the world, and they get the finest care we can provide...then they leave without paying a cent. THERE ARE NO MORE NURSING JOBS IN CALIFORNIA!

The wheels have fallen off the wagon people. The system is falling apart. I wouldn't be surprised if my ER was over-run by zombies during the next full moon (joke).

Really, will the last RN to leave California, please remember to turn the call-lights off.

Grand Rapids, MI is probably one of the least trendy and/or desirable places to live in the country. But after reading about people's experiences in the more "with it" cities, I'm kind of glad I live here. I could quit tonight, and have another full time job by lunch tomorrow.

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.
There is no nursing shortage in California! And there hasn't been for a long, long time.
I can agree with this. Recent statistics indicate that 43 percent of all newer nurses in California have not been able to find their first nursing jobs. If the state of CA truly suffered from a nursing shortage, all of these nurses would have secured employment by now.

Central Valley Business Times

California is my home state where I was born and raised. I want to return to CA, but I will not do this without a firm job offer. Even with 6+ years of experience, my prospects of finding nursing employment there are not that great.

This also happened at my hospital a few years back, huge influx of Filipino nurses who were subservient to the hospital. Then we became unionized - not sure that helped either.

Specializes in ICU / PCU / Telemetry / Oncology.

Just graduated in May from a nursing school in NY, and one of my classmates just moved to CA. I wonder if he knows what he's in for.

How do we get this myth busted?

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.
How do we get this myth busted?
I'm trying to do my part in busting this pervasive myth by spreading the word. If every unemployed or underemployed nurse spreads the word, then perhaps the clueless public would 'catch a clue.'