The recent news about nursing jobs seems mixed. On the one hand, we hear that nursing is the #1 job for 2012, and then we hear that the shortage is over and there won’t be many new jobs until 2020. What do we believe?
Like any prognostications, we need to take these reports and proclamations with a grain of salt. Although nursing is the most respected profession in the United States for 12 out of the last 13 years (according to Gallup), we also know that many qualified nursing school candidates are being turned away from schools, and there is a general shortage of nursing professors out there in the workforce (probably because they get paid so little in comparison with clinical nurses).
Meanwhile, as nursing is declared to have some of the best job prospects of any profession in 2012, we’re simultaneously told that a variety of factors are causing the hiring of nurses to drastically decrease and that there won’t be another surge of need for nurses until 2020.
These dichotomous predictions are definitely confusing, and some potential nursing students may feel the need to look elsewhere for a career, like technology, OT, speech therapy or other areas.
In my own experience, I have never allowed statistics or forecasts to guide my career and life choices. Generally, I allow my gut and my own knowledge to be the signs of where I go next. In 2009, my wife and I sold our house in the middle of the recession when everyone told us we couldn’t do it. (We received our asking price in cash after 21 days on the market.) Back in the late 90’s, people told me that nursing jobs were hard to come by, and I have never lacked for a satisfying and relatively well-paying nursing job. If everyone listened to the forecasts of doom and gloom that are so common, most of us would probably never accomplish anything.
That said, the numbers are saying that there may not be as much space in the market for the nurses who are graduating from nursing schools this year, and while that may indicate that full time positions with benefits may not be in the offing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there are simply no jobs of any kind (in my book, anyway).
We all know that these economic times call for a great deal of flexibility and creativity, and that also applies to those entering the nursing profession. Private duty nursing, part-time positions, as well as entrepreneurial endeavors are some of the ways that nurses—both novice and seasoned—are navigating the economic waters of 2012, so don’t despair. Think creatively and be open to a career that develops and changes along a trajectory that may not fit with your original notion of what it should look like.
Nurses remain the backbone of the healthcare industry in the United States (and most of the world), and the need for our professional services and skills may wax and wane, but we will always remain in demand.