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New Nurses Report Tougher Job Market

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, February 3, 2014

The economic recession may be to blame for a downturn in demand for newly licensed registered nurses, suggests a survey from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The lead author speculates, however, that demand will grow stronger as healthcare reform is implemented.

For years we've been told about the nursing shortage and the thousands of jobs awaiting newly minted registered nurses. Now a survey of newly licensed registered nurses suggests that this might not be completely accurate.

Compared with six years ago, newly licensed registered nurses (NLRNs) who completed their studies in 2010–11 have greater job commitment, but are more likely to work part-time, and to report that they had fewer job opportunities, according to the survey from the RN Work Project, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Of those in the 2010–11 cohort who reported being unemployed, 31.1% said they could not find an entry-level RN job in their area, compared with only 11.8% reporting this in 2004–05. More specifically, one in 10 of the 2010–11 cohort said they could not find a job they liked.

Christine T. Kovner, RN, a professor at the College of Nursing at NYU and lead author of the survey, says that some of the perceived downturn in demand for nurses may have been a byproduct of the recession.

"It's more difficult to get jobs for new graduates now than it was prior to the recession," she says.

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