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Nursing Employment Market Looking Up

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, January 18, 2011

The stagnant nursing job market is set to pick up in 2011, according to recent reports. After suffering through layoffs, hiring freezes, and new grad unemployment, the news about nursing jobs is about to become more "normal." In nursing, that means a return to plentiful job openings, new graduate nurses in high demand (especially those with baccalaureate degrees), and renewed concern about the nursing shortage.

Healthcare has been one of the few areas of the economy that has seen steady job creation in the last few months, although nursing has continued to feel the pinch. Many nurses delayed retirement due to decimated retirement funds and concern over spouse' incomes. Despite the official end of the recession, high unemployment rates for the country continued in 2010, leading many nurses to pick up extra shifts or even return to the profession due to spouses' job losses or poor job prospects.

As the economy improves, these nurses will be able to plan their retirement, decrease shifts, or leave the profession entirely. In addition, healthcare growth and expansion will see new RN positions added. New graduate nurses should see an end to the difficulties they have faced in finding employment, particularly in California and the Northeast.

More nurses are set to enter the profession this year and the latest data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reveals that more of them will have baccalaureate degrees. There was a 6.1% increase in enrollment in baccalaureate programs in 2010 compared to 2009, which is the tenth year of such an increase. Despite this increase, more than 50,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing schools in 2010 due to a shortage of faculty and clinical placement sites.

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