Is nursing still a good career choice? With the baby boomer generation approaching old age and requiring more medical care, it seems necessary for the healthcare industry to increase its ranks, with
nursing positions being particularly important. Additionally, the enactment of the new healthcare law recently passed in the United States is likely to increase demand for healthcare.
Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a job outlook report for
registered nurses through the year 2010, which cited significant growth rate of
nursing positions and excellent job opportunities overall. However, nursing
schools throughout the country have reported a hiring shrinkage, and more and
more graduates are failing to find nursing positions. The reasons for this
mostly stem from the economic recession. Hospitals were hit heavily by the
crisis and due to severe budget cuts, had to eliminate nursing positions. Then,
as individuals were hit by financial woes, more people began delaying or
foregoing medical treatment. Finally, many registered nurses who were retired
resumed their old nursing jobs, and many who were considering retirement,
decided against it. This combined to create the currently dismal outlook for
today's nursing school graduates
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' projection models show that around 587,000 new jobs for RNs will open in the decade from 2006 to 2016. This would be one of the country's top occupations in terms of job opportunities. If the economy stabilizes, the market may also be expanded by older nurses choosing to retire.
The Bureau is also optimistic about a rise in nursing jobs due to exciting technological advances in patient care allowing medical professionals to treat health problems that we have not been able to in the past. This would drive a greater demand for healthcare treatment and nurses. They also project an increase in preventative care, and the aging baby boomer demographic rapidly increasing the healthcare demand in the U.S.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported their projected growth rates for RNs in the top six largest industries:
- 39 percent growth--Offices of physicians
- 39 percent growth--Home healthcare services
- 34 percent growth--Outpatient centers (excluding mental health and substance abuse)
- 27 percent growth--Employment services
- 22 percent growth--General medical and surgical hospitals (public and private)
- 20 percent growth--Nursing care facilities
However in hospitals, healthcare's largest industry, employment is anticipated to grow more slowly compared to other healthcare industries. While the intensity of nursing care will probably increase, the number of inpatients is not likely to grow alongside. The trend has been towards earlier discharges, and more procedures becoming outpatient, rather than inpatient, procedures. Thus, it is expected that healthcare outpatient facilities will grow much more quickly than hospitals. Physician's offices, outpatient care centers, and emergency centers are amongst those predicted to grow rapidly.
The baby boomers continue to play a large role in the future of American healthcare. Nursing care facilities are also expected to experience increased growth as our country's number of elderly people, many of whom require serious or long-term healthcare, swells. Hand-in-hand with this rise will be an increase in the demand for at-home treatment and residential care facilities. The recategorization of many procedures as outpatient will further expand the demand for these healthcare industries. Additionally, with more of the population at risk for stroke and Alzheimer?s, specialized long-term rehabilitation facilities should also expand quickly.
Home healthcare is another rising industry opening many new jobs for nurses, as technological advances grow to meet the consumer preference for in-home care. This will be especially relevant to RNs who are experienced and able to perform complex procedures.
Temporary nursing is a healthcare industry expected to grow quickly in the short term, as facilities more frequently have short-term staffing needs as older RNs retire, before permanent replacements can be found.