New grads face a tough job market, but the long-term outlook for nursing is good.
According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (www.deed.state.mn.us), registered nurses are at the top of occupations in demand, and licensed practical nurses are not far behind. Yet nurses are being laid off, and new grads of both two- and four-year programs are having difficulty finding jobs.
The Long And Short Of It
So is nursing still a good career choice? Yes, says Susan Speetzen, DEED Healthcare Industry Liaison. "In the long term, we are facing a catastrophic nursing shortage," she says. "Aging patients will need more care. Improved technology means that more severely injured and ill patients survive, and they also need extensive care."
In the short term, however, nurses, like other job seekers, face a tough market. Last year, most graduating nurses received multiple offers. Now only about one in five gets a job right away.
Job Search Skills, Flexibility
"Today's graduates need skills in résumé writing, networking and interviewing," Speetzen says. "They also need to broaden their search and be flexible about shifts, work setting and geographical location."
Many hospitals are not hiring, but openings exist in elder care, home care and outpatient settings. And in many rural areas, like southwestern Minnesota, the job market is less competitive than in the Twin Cities.
Aging Patients, Aging Nurses
Speetzen advises all nurses to bone up on geriatric care. Except for pediatrics, all nursing specialties will be impacted by the aging population. "In addition, elder services are evolving and offering more creative, person-centered care," she says. "For nurses who like working with patients on a long-term basis, this can be a very enjoyable setting."
Nurses in their 50s will soon make up about one-quarter of the nursing workforce. When the economy improves, many of them will likely retire, thus increasing the number of job openings for new nurses.
Nancy Giguere is a freelance writer from St. Paul who has written about healthcare since 1995.