Which states are great for nurses to work in??


Hello fellow nurses!

I'm a newbie nurse and I'm excited to think about the future of my career. I definitely wish to travel & relocate and since I'm young & single I'm flexible to do so!:cat: I don't know if there's a straight answer to my question as I'm sure the answer essentially lies in the facility in which you work for, but in terms of policies and regulations, I was wondering which states are great for nurses to work in? I.E. which states have better policies & regulations in place that make for better healthcare & work environment, safeguard us hardworking nurses & our licenses, and overall furnishes some happy nurses!

I know nursing particularly in acute care can be tough, and on a daily basis nurses are faced with stressful damned if you do, damned if you don't situations. Like for example mandatory overtime. I've only been a nurse for a couple wks and I can ALREADY SEE why some nurses are overwhelmed and over bedside nursing. 10 years down the line, I don't want to be some bitter nurse, I know nursing is tough but it's what I love to do and I want to keep my enthusiasm! So I want to set myself up for success, which states are better than others to be a nurse? If that's too broad to answer, is it safe to say that magnet facilities in general are safer bets for nurses than nonmagnet?

Thanks!!! xoxo

Newbie nurse

hope3456, ASN, RN

1,263 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Psych, M/S.

Regarding magnet facilities - I worked in one that was great - but I've heard varying reports. I am in a right to work state where you can be "let go" for anything at a moment's notice. This causes nurses to be afraid of getting on mgr's bad side for any reason and things never change. I know some states have whistle blower protection laws....


57 Posts

I would think any state that is not in the South. I live here but the whole at will employment irks me, especially in the field of nursing. Nurses always feel like they have no voice here. I heard Virginia is nice and so is California but it can be very difficult getting a job there.


1,526 Posts

Has 6 years experience.

Virginia is the south and its labor laws are extremely unfriendly to workers.

Music in My Heart

2 Articles; 4,102 Posts

Specializes in being a Credible Source. Has 13 years experience.

California is an at-will state (you can be terminated at any time for no reason at all).

However, many hospitals are unionized and even many of those that aren't have solid contracts because they're competing with unionized hospitals next door.

While they're sometimes disregarded (from what I hear), California has mandated ratios which is a great benefit to working here. Personally, I love California - parts of it, anyway - and, though having lived in a number of places, wouldn't want to be anywhere except where I am.


36 Posts

It is more about the individual hospital than the state. For example I traveled to 2 different systems in Pennsylvania. One was awesome, one was miserable. Check out turnover rates. I work in Massachusetts now, and love it. It is rare for me to be working a shift without at least one nurse who has been at my current facility for 10+ years. It says a lot for a facility to hold on to its nurses that long, not to mention the fact that there is always someone trustworthy to answer my questions. Ask the nurses how long they have been there. If everyone is new that is a red flag, or if all of a sudden there are a bunch of open positions on a particular unit, try to figure out why. You also should ask about nurse to patient ratios. I tend to add 1-2 patients to whatever they say in the interview unless there is a cap where they stop taking patients if they can't make the ratio (I have only worked in one facility that capped and it was wonderful 3:1 was the true nurse patient ratio 4:1 was the exception, and after that they stopped taking admissions, but it was a world renowned teaching facility so don't expect that everywhere). Look at the assignment board to see how many patients the nurses REALLY have. When I worked in North Carolina if a dc order was written the patient no longer counted, so you could end up with 6 or 7 patients on dayshift when the "max" was supposed to be 5. So to answer your question after traveling for 5 years I can honestly say there is no "best state" although Massachusetts is pretty nice, and I admit I have not traveled to California so I can't judge them. My experience has been that the northeast is more nurse-friendly than the south, but that doesn't mean everywhere in the northeast will be good and everything in the south will be bad. Research the individual facility carefully.

beckster_01, BSN, RN

1 Article; 499 Posts

Specializes in MICU. Has 12 years experience.

I work in Western NY (NYC nursing is completely different from what I hear). In my city all of the hospitals are magnet status, so I can't really give an objective opinion on magnet vs. non-magnet. I can tell you that there are lots of opportunities to get involved various committees in a magnet hospital, which doesn't look bad on a resume. None of the hospitals are unionized, however in one of them the support staff are unionized, and I am not a fan. It is near-impossible for one of them to get fired, leaving very little incentive for good work ethic. Pluses are that there are high standards of care, a few good Trauma 1 centers, good nurse/patient ratios, and good employment prospects for new grads (everyone in my graduating class at least got a job offer after passing the NCLEX). I haven't encountered too many issues with a lack of respect for nurses, or the horizontal violence that I heard so much about in school. If you are interested in continuing education there are some great universities in this part of the state.

Draw backs would be the obvious...New York state taxes. Salaries are not very competitive where I live compared to what I see people getting nationally, however cost of living is relatively low. It isn't exactly the most adventurous place to relocate to, however people are very down to earth around here, and there is plenty to do if you look hard enough, and the possibility for fun weekend trips to the Adirondacks, NYC, Toronto, etc.

Specializes in Emergency/Cath Lab. Has 6 years experience.

Your mileage is going to vary from facility to facility greatly. In the same town, I work at the hospital and my fiance works at the VA. Our policies and the way the nurses are treated are different. Way different. So I would find a state that you want to live in. WHat part of the country do you like, then go from there.


162 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care.

The Seton hospital system in Austin, TX is great! They are very invested in making sure that their new nurses are happy and successful. The Dallas/Fort Worth area also has a great job market for new grads (I got my BSN in Fort Worth). No state taxes and relatively low cost of living in Texas, too!


14,633 Posts

FWIW, North Carolina is the only US state in which the members of the BON are elected by the nurses of the state, rather than appointed by the governor. I don't know much difference that really makes, but I've worked in a few different states over the decades, and the NC BON has seemed much more responsive and reasonable than the boards in the other states in which I've practiced. And there is a lot of rotation (nurses serve a term or two on the board and then return to "private life" and practice, rather than getting appointed to the board and staying on it forever).

However, that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of variety among employers (in terms of "good" and "bad" employers). And NC is an "at will" state with v. little unionization.


151 Posts

I am also interested in the answers to this question! I work in the South, and am looking around trying to figure out where to move when I finally make that leap.


1,025 Posts

I've worked in the South and in New England and there is no comparison. New England was a much better experience all around.