Looking at the numbers

Minnesota Public Radio, over the last year or so, has been making a noticeable splash with their discussions asking whether or not nursing schools are producing too many nurses.  I think this is a very reasonable question to ask.  Everyone tells you and everyone believes that there will always be nursing jobs because there will always be sick people. This is true, people will always be getting sick, getting in accidents, and needing surgery; but my question is; will there always be hospitals open and staffed to take care of them?

In Minnesota in the 4th quarter of 2010 the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development found there to be just over 1000 Registered Nurse job openings. Per the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (the organization that administers the licensing exam) there were approximately 2500 people in 2010 that took and passed the licensing exam.  When you read the number ‘1000’ open nursing positions, its like WOW!! an industry that is need of workers. In 2001, there were over 3000 RN openings in the State of Minnesota.  The number of job openings includes advanced practice nursing positions, teaching positions (Masters and PhD), educators, administrators, outpatient, home health, hospice, nursing homes, and hospitals.  Most positions that new graduate nursing students are not qualified for.  Nursing is a humongous profession with many vast and varied employment opportunities.  That number is not saying there are 1000 full-time, benefited, hospital nursing positions (which is where newly graduated nurses need to start to get any experience). Many of the hospital positions are per diem (on call), non benefited, without any hours guarantee.  No new graduate can afford to have a job where they may work 1 shift every week. Also these positions are typically filled by experienced nurses, seeking a second job, who need minimal training and can be ready to start working in the institution within a few shifts.

A hospital organization in Seattle that offers a new graduate consortium to train, educate, and mentor new nurses within their hospital system posted their consortium position on their website, for summer 2011, and had almost 400 applicants within 1 day…. that’s right ONE day. There were 40 available spots in the consortium. The hospitals HR department took the posting down after 1 day.  Forty is A LOT of nurses to hire and train for any organization. New nurses are expensive to train, teach, and educate to be a safe and expert caregivers in the hospital. You work one-on-one with a preceptor for months.  Hiring a graduate nurse is a costly investment.  I think this one example speaks volumes about the job market for new grads.

EMSI (Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.), a blog specializing in labor trends and workforce and economic development, found in 2009 that the United States had 190,615 individuals that completed nursing programs.  This figure includes, RNs going back for their bachelors, Masters, PhD, and New ADN and BSN graduates.  There were only 105,020 total nursing position openings throughout the entire country.  Again that encompasses the entire nursing professional spectrum. In nursing however, the reason to continue your education is to open the doors to new professional opportunities that are available with advanced degrees.

I think it is full of foresight for Minnesota Public Radio to start the discussion on this topic.  This is a very real and very current issue that people all over the country are experiencing.  When I read the story it made me want to keep the discussion going.  Where are new graduate RN’s getting jobs? How long is it taking? Are you getting interviews? Are there available jobs across the country to apply for?

We need to continue educating nurses; an honest discussion on the numbers of graduates and available jobs is a good place for all of us to start. Stay tuned and join in to future discussions on this topic!

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