With continued high unemployment, wild fluctuations in the stock market and an economy recovering in fits and starts, many of the nation’s new graduates face an uphill road to their first jobs.
But unlike many of their peers, new nursing graduates have an ace up their sleeve: they’re looking for work in a growing industry.
As several other industries continue to shed jobs, there is considerable job growth in the health care industry. This job growth includes the nursing field, according to data released by the federal government in April and May.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports that the health care sector added 20,000 more jobs in April, after adding 27,000 jobs in March. That month, ambulatory health services saw the largest gains, with an increase of 16,000 new jobs. Nursing and residential care facilities added 9,000 more jobs. Data specific to nurses was not available in the May report, which looks at April jobs.
The job market for nurses has been more competitive in some regions of the country in recent years because of the recession. Employed nurses have added hours to their schedules or postponed retirement plans to boost incomes, and some retired nurses have returned to work, making jobs harder to come by for some new nursing graduates. But experts predict a future surge in demand for nurses, especially now that the health reform bill has been signed into law.
The new law sets aside federal funding to send more nurses to the homes of first-time, low-income mothers and to public schools, and provides financial incentives for nurses who specialize in pediatrics, geriatrics and long-term chronic care.
It also will enable nurses to provide a fuller range of primary care services as leaders of nurse-managed health care centers; boosts reimbursement rates for nurse-midwives; and enables nurses to take advantage of new sources of funding to advance their education.
The nursing workforce was projected to grow even before the law was enacted. In December 2009, the BLS projected that more than 581,500 new R.N. positions will be created through 2018, which would increase the size of the R.N. workforce by 22 percent.